Manish Patel explains how our teeth develop, from the womb, through to our adult years.
It may seem a long time ago for many of us, but can you remember when your first tooth came out? For some of us it may have been a surprise to find our wobbly tooth stuck in a toffee or other sticky food. Others may have had theirs pulled away from the gum by an over-zealous parent or other non-recommended method (please don’t do that by the way!)
Our ‘baby teeth’ or ‘milk teeth’ only last us a few years before being replaced by our adult teeth; but we should take care to keep both sets as healthy as possible.
Very early tooth development
It may surprise our Bedford patients to know that, although we don’t see any teeth for several months, they actually start to develop whilst we are in the womb. This development starts in the foetus at around six weeks as a collection of cells. These gradually grow beneath the gums until the time is right for them to erupt after we are born. This eruption usually occurs between the ages of six to twelve months, although this will vary with each individual. If you are concerned about your child’s tooth development, or lack of, at this stage, you should discuss this with your local family dentist.
When a tooth starts to erupt or ‘come through’, it can be a distressing time for the child, and cause a lack of sleep for some parents too. There are children’s medications that are available from the chemists that can help ease any discomfort associated with this. You may also find allowing the child to chew on a clean wet cloth will help to sooth them too. Although it can certainly be a trying time for both baby and parents, it is a healthy sign that their teeth are developing as they should do. Interestingly, girl’s baby teeth tend to erupt sooner than boys. Whatever the case though, although these teeth will fall out eventually, you should make sure to keep them clean and healthy and, if you are registered with The Dental Centre Bedford, you should register your child too.
Losing baby teeth
Your children should start to lose their baby teeth from around six years old. The front teeth are usually the first to go and these should be allowed to fall out naturally. Although there may be some amusing videos on YouTube of people pulling their children’s teeth out by some very unique methods, some of these risk not only causing distress to the child, but may also cause some soft tissue damage surrounding the tooth. If your child has a particularly stubborn loose tooth that is causing them problems, you should ask your dentist to remove it for you so that it can be done safely and comfortably.
By the age of twelve, most children will have lost their baby teeth as their adult teeth erupt. There is no hard and fast rule for this though and some young adults may still have a few baby teeth remaining.
Once our adult teeth come through, these are the last set of teeth that we will have, and it is therefore important that we look after them well. This means not only eating sensibly, avoiding tooth damaging foods wherever possible, but also regular brushing and flossing as well as making sure that you are registered at a dental practice and are examined at least every six months. Keeping teeth strong and healthy not only means that they look better, but that you won’t have to worry about damaging them further through everyday use. Damaged, or weak teeth can be problematic when it comes to eating certain foods, and eating out, or at home for that matter, can be less pleasurable than it should be.
At The Dental Centre Bedford, we firmly believe in preventative dental care, and, along with your regular dental checks, we recommend that all patients should see their hygienist regularly as well. Gum disease is a real threat to your teeth, and possibly your general health too (1). Having them professionally cleaned from time to time, plays a very important role in keeping gum disease and related problems at bay.
Whilst the goal should always be to keep your own natural teeth throughout your life, it is always reassuring to know that we have treatments such as dental implants available to replace them, should you lose a tooth for any reason. You may also want to take a look at our other cosmetic procedures if you are interested in keeping your teeth nice looking too.
From the cradle until our later years, oral health care is clearly very important. Our Bedford dental team are here to help make sure that you have access to treatment when you need it and we are also happy to answer any questions that you may have about looking after your teeth.
To register with our practice, or to make an appointment if you are already a patient, you can contact us at the Meiklejohn Centre by calling our team on 01234 819868.
Manish Patel is a specialist prosthodontist with an interest in general dental care (GDC 76251)