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The roots of primary teeth provide an opening for the permanent teeth to erupt. Primary teeth may be temporary, but they deserve good care. A child needs strong, healthy primary teeth for proper development of a child’s speech and chewing of food.

The primary teeth gradually erupt through the gums during the first 2 1⁄2 years of life. The four front teeth (two upper and two lower) usually erupt first, beginning as early as six months after birth. Most children have a full set of primary teeth by the time they are 3 years old. The eruption of these teeth begins at the age of six months and continues until twenty-five to thirty-three months of age during the primary dentition period. Usually, the first teeth seen in the mouth are the mandibular centrals and the last are the maxillary second molars.


The replacement of primary teeth begins around age six, when the permanent teeth start to appear in the mouth, resulting in mixed dentition. The erupting permanent teeth cause root resorption, where the permanent teeth push on the roots of the primary teeth, causing the roots to be dissolved by odontoclasts and become absorbed by the forming permanent teeth.

The process of shedding primary teeth and their replacement by permanent teeth is called exfoliation. This may start at age six and continue up to age twelve. By age twelve all primary tooth will be replaced by permanent teeth.

A child’s deciduous teeth are anchored so firmly for a long period but, during exfoliation process, they fall down very freely.

During the baby teeth’s lifespan, they have a substantial root complex. But as the permanent tooth below this baby teeth continues to erupt and weakens the baby teeth root. As the permanent tooth moves up through the jawbone, the root of the baby tooth becomes loose. Finally at some point, this permanent teeth start to grow through the gums and they press on the roots of baby teeth, making them loose. That time, baby teeth root is no longer substantial enough to keep it anchored and hence baby teeth falls down easily and freely, making place to permanent teeth.

Primary teeth should be kept clean and healthy so that a child can remain free of cavities and oral pain. Infection from decayed primary teeth can damage the permanent teeth developing under them. Parents and other caregivers may not realize that primary teeth are susceptible to decay as soon as they appear in the mouth. Tooth decay in infants and toddlers sometimes is called early childhood caries, baby bottle tooth decay or nursing mouth syndrome. This condition can destroy teeth. It occurs when a child’s teeth are exposed frequently to sugary liquids for long periods. You can help reduce the risk of tooth decay. Never allow your infant or toddler to fall asleep with a bottle containing milk, formula, fruit juices or sweetened liquid. Don’t dip a pacifier in sugar or honey. If your infant or toddler needs a comforter between regular feedings or at bedtime, give the child a clean pacifier recommended by your dentist or pediatrician. Wipe your child’s gums with a wet washcloth or a clean gauze pad after each feeding. Begin brushing your child’s teeth with a little water as soon as the first tooth appears. Supervise toothbrushing to make sure that children older than 2 years use only a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and avoid swallowing it. Children should be taught to spit out remaining toothpaste and rinse with water after brushing.



It’s a good idea to discourage thumb-sucking before your child gets permanent teeth, though. Continued sucking after that time can lead to problems with the front teeth tipping outward or not developing properly.

You can help relieve sore gums by allowing the baby to suck on a teething ring, or gently rubbing your baby’s gums with the back of a small spoon, a piece of wet gauze, or even your finger.


You should start brushing when the first tooth begins to show. Use a soft-bristled children’s brush with a pea-sized smear of toothpaste and brush gently but thoroughly, ensuring all teeth are covered. Your child should brush their teeth twice a day. The morning brush can be before or after breakfast, but tooth brushing should always be the last thing a child does before bed.

Babies’ gums and teeth can be gently cleaned with special infant toothbrushes that fit over your finger. Water is suitable in lieu of toothpaste (because the baby may swallow the toothpaste).

Primary teeth can be cleansed with child-sized, soft-bristled toothbrushes. Remember to use small portions of toothpaste (a pea-sized portion is suitable), and teach your child to spit out, not swallow, the toothpaste when finished.


Prevents tooth decay, and protects all ages against cavities. Suggest a “smear” or “grain of rice” amount of toothpaste starting at tooth emergence for all children. For children ages 3 to 6, recommend a “pea-sized” amount of fluoridated toothpaste.

Topical Fluoride (recommended by dentist)

Fluoride incorporates into the enamel of teeth, making it harder and more resistant to decay. Although there is a small amount of fluoride in toothpastes and in some drinking water supplies, a higher concentration can be applied professionally to your child’s teeth for maximum protection.


Toothache pain can be caused by a variety of issues, including infections, an injury, a loose tooth, decay in the tooth or impacted food particles. Start by reducing oral swelling. If the child is old enough to swish and spit, have him rinse with a warm saltwater solution to reduce oral inflammation.


Injuries are common for children as they play or children involved in sports, mouth guards are strongly encouraged, and can prevent a whole host of injuries to the teeth, gums, lips and other oral structures. A tooth can be chipped, displaced or totally detached from its socket. Your child may experience bleeding from the area, pain, or increased sensitivity when a tooth is injured.

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