Early Dental Care

Just because your child won’t keep his or her first set of teeth forever, doesn’t mean those tiny pearly whites don’t need conscientious care. Primary teeth (baby teeth) serve some extremely important functions. As your local Thornton family dentists, we believe maintaining your child’s dental health from an early age will lead to health benefits that will last throughout adulthood.

The Importance of Baby Teeth

Primary teeth act as guides for the eruption of permanent teeth (adult teeth). They hold the space where new teeth will erupt as the crowns (tops) of the permanent teeth push against the roots of baby teeth, causing them to resorb or melt away. As a result, the adult teeth can take their proper place.

For about the first six years, your child will rely on primary teeth to perform important functions like biting, chewing, and speaking. Until around age 12, your child will have a mix of primary and permanent teeth to accomplish the same tasks. You will want to make sure all those teeth stay healthy and are lost naturally when the time is right.

Tooth Eruption

A child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. As early as four months of age, the primary (baby) teeth push through the gums—starting with the lower central incisors then the upper central incisors. The remaining 20 primary teeth typically erupt by age three. Permanent teeth begin eruption around age six—starting with the first molars and lower central incisors. This process continues until around age 21. By then you have 28 permanent teeth plus four third molars known as wisdom teeth, equaling 32 total teeth.


Sometimes babies can experience teething discomfort during the eruption of their first teeth. If your child experiences such discomfort, please consult with one of our Thornton office’s family dentists for advice on the best course of action to take. Knowing right when your baby begins teething by looking out for the signs is also important. These signs can start occurring about four days before the tooth breaks through the gum line and can persist for up to three days after the tooth appears. Signs include:

  • Irritability
  • Biting and gnawing
  • Drooling
  • Chin rash (caused by excessive salivation)
  • Swollen gums
  • Ear rubbing
  • Decreased appetite
  • Disrupted sleep patterns

The best way to relieve the discomfort your baby may experience from teething is by applying cold and/or pressure to the affected area. You can do this by utilizing:

  • Chilled teething rings
  • Cold, wet washcloths
  • Chilled pacifiers
  • Massaging baby’s gums

Preventing Baby Bottle Decay

Tooth decay in infants can be minimized or totally prevented by not allowing sleeping infants to bottle-feed. Infants that need a bottle to comfortably fall asleep should be given a water-filled bottle or a pacifier.

Caring for New Baby Teeth

The way your child cares for his/her primary teeth plays a critical role in how he/she treats permanent teeth. Children and adults are equally susceptible to plaque and gum problems; hence the need for regular care and dental check-ups.

At home, meanwhile, your infant’s gums and newly erupted teeth should be gently wiped after each feeding with a water-soaked gauze pad or damp washcloth.

Starting at age two, when there are more teeth in the mouth, you will want to establish a daily brushing routine utilizing a small, soft-bristled toothbrush and a thin smear of fluoridated toothpaste. Your child may need your help with brushing until about the age of six.

Since primary teeth guide the permanent teeth into place, infants with missing primary teeth or infants who prematurely lose primary teeth may require a space maintainer, a device used to hold the natural space open. Without a maintainer the teeth can tilt toward the empty space and cause permanent teeth to come in crooked.

Good Diet & Healthy Teeth

The teeth, bones, and soft tissue of the mouth require a healthy, well-balanced diet. A variety of foods from the five food groups can help you minimize and avoid cavities and other dental problems. Children should regularly consume healthy foods like vegetables, low-fat yogurt, and cheeses, which promote strong teeth.

Your Child’s First Dental Visit

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends that you bring your child in to see a dentist by his or her first birthday. Though this may sound early, at this age your trusted family dentist at North Washington Dental can teach you proper pediatric oral hygiene techniques, check your child for cavities and decay, and watch for developmental problems that might form in your child’s mouth later on. Moreover, during this first visit, our North Washington Dental team will do everything we can to make sure you child develops a positive impression of the dentist, which will make regular visits in the future enjoyable and easy.

Contact Your Local Family Dentist Now

Primary (baby) teeth play a crucial role in dental development. Without them, a child cannot chew food properly and has difficulty speaking clearly. To ensure your child has a future of strong dental health, be sure he or she receives the best early dental care possible. Book an appointment by contacting North Washington Dental today. We happily provide premier family dentistry treatment to families across the Thornton, CO area.

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North Washington Dental
10001 Washington Street Thornton , CO 80229
Phone: 303-452-2053
Email: NWashingtonDental@mydentalmail.com   Visit Us on Facebook Yelp Listing Visit our Google Plus Page Follow Us on Twitter

North Washington Dental welcomes patients with disabilities. If you need an accommodation to receive dental services, we would be happy to provide one.
Please contact us at 303-452-2053 to let us know how we may be of assistance.