by Dr Shweta Verma senior Dentist

Milk teeth starts erupting when the baby is around 6 months old . All the Deciduous teeth (milk teeth) erupts completely till 2 ½-3 years of age. Many people assumes that cavities or hygiene of milk teeth is not much importance as they will shed off eventually but milk teeth are really important for the overall health of the child .

  • loss of milk teeth or painful carious teeth discourages the child to eat or chew food properly, that leads to malnutrition in kids.
  • Smiling face is a confidence booster. Kids with carious teeth or broken milk teeth sometimes doesn’t interact confidently .
  • Milk teeth guides the eruption of permanent teeth. Permanent teeth  may erupts in open space either outward or inward the arch, if milk teeth is lost due to caries or trauma.

Here are some common problems associated with milk teeth :

  • Nursing bottle caries: This is also called baby bottle tooth decay. It is caused when a child goes to bed with a bottle filled with milk or juice. It usually affects children between the ages of one and two years. Breastfed infants who fall asleep while breastfeeding are also at risk. Usually upper and lower front teeth are involved. Light or brown color spots leads to further decaying of teeth.

Precautions and treatment;

  • Do not allow your child to take bottle while sleeping or lying down.
  • Take good care of gums and teeth.
  • In case or light brown and brown spots, visit a dentist and get the carious teeth restored (filling) done. This will prevent the teeth from further damage.
  • Dislocation of teeth due to trauma

 In many cases, a loose tooth will heal without treatment. Injured teeth that are very loose may need to be removed. Dentist will further guide about space maintainers ,if necessary, for the proper positional eruption of permanent teeth.

  • Fracture of teeth

Children with broken teeth should see a dentist promptly. The dentist will determine if the tooth’s nerves or blood vessels could be damaged. Treatment may include smoothing the rough edges of the tooth, repairing it with a tooth-colored resin material, leaving the tooth in place, or removing it.

  • Thumb sucking

If the child is still sucking their thumb even when their permanent teeth begin to come in, the habit can cause a wide range of other problems , affecting teeth alignment and the shape of roof of the mouth. In that case, dentist can provide a habit breaking appliances depending on the severity of habit and its effects.

  • Grinding of teeth (Bruxisim)

Teeth grinding is a common condition among school-aged children. It develops because their top teeth aren’t aligned with their bottom teeth. Another reason could be in response to pain — just as you rub a sore muscle, like teething or an earache. It can also be a sign that a kid is experiencing stress or hyperactivity. Night guards can help keep your child from grinding their teeth as they sleep.

  • Over retained  deciduous teeth

Delaying in shedding of milk teeth / delayed eruption of permanent teeth/ presence of both milk and permanent teeth at the same site. In these cases, visit your dentist to rule out the possible cause and treatment related to that.

When is the right time for orthodontic braces or wiring of teeth ,in cases of crowding or mal-aligned teeth in children?

The best age for  an orthodontic assessment  of children is around 8-10 year of age, it helps to avoid progressive dental issues, helps in keeping better oral hygiene and accordingly braces can be planned after 1-5 years.

For adults , orthodontic treatment can be done at any age.

Oral hygiene tips for children

  • Baby teeth start to break through the gums around 6 months but it is important to start good oral care for infants even before the first tooth comes in.
  • Wipe your baby’s gums with a soft washcloth after feeding. This helps remove the bacteria that can cause tooth decay.
  • Once they begin to erupt, brush teeth twice a day for at least two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste.
  • Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and make sure your child spits it out after brushing.
  • Use a small or medium size brush ,according to the kids age and change the brush after every 3 months.
  • Help your child brush and floss, and remind him or her to pay attention to the back teeth.
  • Visit the dentist every 6 months.

The writer is Dr Shweta Verma, Senior Dentist, AIIMS.

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