Baby teeth and eruption

        Every parent naturally desires that his/her baby should be healthy, chubby and intelligent. To enjoy good fruits one has to plan and work hard. For planning, both the parents must have sound knowledge about the normal baby and infant care in general. This article provides information on baby teeth and explains milk teeth in babies, eruption of milk teeth, eruption of permanent teeth and misconceptions related to teething.

Baby teeth

1. What are milk teeth ?

The set of baby teeth which erupt first in a child are known as milk teeth, deciduous teeth or temporary teeth. They are twenty in number. They are known as milk teeth as they appear when babies thrive on milk and they are known as temporary teeth as they fall down in course of time paving the way for the eruption of the second set of teeth known as permanent teeth.

2. When do the milk teeth normally erupt ?

        Even though the age of eruption of teeth varies from child to child, the eruption follows the following pattern in general. The baby teeth to erupt first are the lower central incisors. They erupt between 5 to 9 months of age. This is followed by the eruption of upper central incisors, first molars, canines, second molars in order at an interval of 1 to 3 months each. The second molars usually erupt between 20 to 30 months of age. In some babies the first tooth may erupt as late as one and half years. Hence one should not worry about minor delay in the eruption of teeth.

3. What is the earliest age at which the first tooth can erupt ?

        Some babies are born with a tooth. This means that the tooth had already erupted before birth. This tooth usually falls and is replaced by a temporary incisor. No treatment is ordinarily necessary.

        If the tooth present at birth is loose, it may be swallowed or aspirated into the wind-pipe and hence it should be removed. Sometimes this tooth is sharp and firm and gives rise to a fissure or an ulcer on the nipple. At times, it may give rise to ulcers on the under surface of the baby’s tongue because of erosion by the edge of the tooth. In such instances also the tooth should be removed.

4. How long can one wait if the first temporary tooth doesn’t erupt in time ?

        In an occasional baby, the first tooth may erupt as late as at the age of one and half years. However, if the first tooth does not erupt by 9 months, it is better to consult a physician who will rule out the causes of late eruption of teeth like rickets and malnutrition. In some families baby teeth erupt late in every child because of hereditary factor.

5. When do the permanent teeth erupt ?

        The first permanent teeth to appear are the first molars which appear at the age of 6 to 7 years and this may be mistaken for temporary teeth. Later, central incisors, lateral incisors, first premolars, canines and second premolars appear in this order at an interval of 1 to 2 years each. The third molar is termed as wisdom tooth and may appear between 17 to 22 years of age. It may not appear in some persons. However, it doesn’t mean that such people lack wisdom.

6. Can teething give rise to various diseases as is commonly believed ?

        Teething does not give rise to various diseases as is commonly believed. According to the Ayurvedic literature, teething may be associated with any symptom or disease. Hippocrates mentions that children suffer from itching of gums, fever, convulsions, diarrhea etc. during teething. Medical literature of 1839 has recorded various diseases caused by teething. Teething gives rise to irritability, increased salivation, refusal to take food, increase in the incidence of thumb sucking, rubbing of gums and painful, tender and congested gums. No other symptom can be directly attributed to teething. The symptoms of teething described by ancient masters are in reality the symptoms of infants during the phase of eruption of teeth e.g. diarrhea is not caused by teething but by the entry of germs in the intestines. During teething the infants put anything and everything into the mouth because of increased desire to bite during the eruption of a tooth. This provides an easy route for the entry of germs into the baby’s stomach and intestines giving rise to vomiting and diarrhea in due course of time.

Reference : Sanatan Sanstha’s Holy text ‘Your baby (Birth to 1 year)’.