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The following dental information pages answers your questions on teeth, milk teeth and various aspects of children's dentistry.

Does the pregnant woman's diet affect the child's teeth?

Prevention of dental problems should ideally start during pregnancy. The pregnant woman should have wholesome and nutritious diet that would help in proper development of the growing foetus. The expectant mother should also have a diet that is rich in calcium to ensure the healthy development of the baby's bones and teeth. Good sources of calcium are cheese, milk, yogurt, leafy vegetables and dairy products. Good diet during pregnancy ensures to healthy teeth and bones in the child.

Can medicines taken during pregnancy
affect the teeth?

There are certain medicines and antibiotics that should be avoided during pregnancy. These drugs can cause defective development of the developing foetus. Tetracycline antibiotics when consumed by pregnant women cause permanent brownish grey staining of the child's teeth. Thus self-medication should be avoided during pregnancy and medicines taken after consultation with the physician.

At what age should I first consult the dentist?

It is a good idea to consult the dentist by six months of age when the first milk teeth are expected to emerge into the oral cavity. Regular visits to the dentist every 6 months will help in giving adequate preventive care to the child that will aid in preventing dental decay. If there are any cavities it is good to undertake the treatment at an early stage. These regular visits are advised even if you think the baby's teeth are healthy. These regular visits also helps the child get used to the idea of visiting the dentist before he needs any treatment to be administered.

What are milk teeth?

Humans have two sets of teeth. The teeth that appear first are called the milk teeth or deciduous dentition or the primary teeth. These teeth are later shed off and are replaced by permanent set of teeth called the permanent dentition.

Why are the milk teeth called so?

Milk teeth are called so due to their white color which resembles the color of milk. The milk teeth are whiter than the permanent teeth which replace them. The refractive index of milk teeth is similar to that of milk and hence they are called so.

What age do the teeth start appearing?

The milk teeth start appearing at 6 months of age. It is quite normal for them to erupt a few months earlier or later. The first milk teeth to appear is the lower front tooth called the lower central incisor. However the order of eruption of different teeth may vary in some children. The diagram on the left gives the usual order of appearance of the milk teeth. However the order may differ in some children.

Is it normal for the teeth to erupt late?

It is quite normal for the teeth to erupt 3-6 months later than the expected time. However delay beyond 6 months may be an indication that you should consult your dentist. The dentist would try and determine the cause of the delay.

What are natal and neonatal teeth?

Very rarely we come across babies who are born with one or more teeth. Teeth that are seen at birth are called natal teeth while teeth that appear within a month of birth are called neonatal teeth. These teeth are retained unless they are very mobile or pose major problems in nursing.

At what age do the milk teeth fall off?

All the milk teeth erupt by 3 years of age. The milk teeth are shed from 6 years onwards till about 10 years of age. The permanent teeth appear by 6 years of age. Between the ages of 6 - 9 years the child has some milk teeth as well as some permanent teeth This period is called the mixed dentition period. By about 12 years all the milk teeth should be shed off and replaced by the permanent teeth.

Why do milk teeth become mobile?

As the permanent teeth start emerging they wear off the roots of the milk teeth. Thus the milk teeth loose their support in the bone and become mobile. The milk teeth are ultimately shed off and are replaced by the permanent teeth.

Are spaces between teeth normal in children?

It is normal to find the milk teeth in children to be spaced. These spaces between the teeth help later in accommodating the bigger permanent teeth. Thus absence of spaces between the milk teetin children may be a fore warning that the child may not have adequate space to accommodate the bigger permanent teeth which may erupt in a crowded arrangement.

Dental Information on Teeth, milk Teeth & Children's Dentistry

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---------------------------------------------© Dr. Bhalajhi Sundaresa Iyyer----------------------------------

Order of appearance of the milk teeth.