Primary Teeth in Children: An Overview of the necessary aspects

Being a parent is one of the biggest responsibilities that you may have, but at the same time, this journey is incredibly exciting. Seeing your kid walking or getting their first baby teeth feels great.



These baby teeth will aid them in chewing, speaking, and smiling, holding space for the adult teeth. Although these primary or deciduous teeth will eventually fall out, and kids will get their new permanent teeth, this is the time you must start considering how to care for your child’s teeth.

Believe it or not, tooth decay can start when your baby’s first teeth erupt. Therefore, it is essential to start caring for your kid’s oral health before it’s too late. So, here are some essential facts and suggestions for maintaining the health of your kid’s teeth and preventing future dental issues.

What are primary teeth?

Primary or deciduous teeth are also called milk or baby teeth. They fall off at around six years and the kid’s permanent teeth start growing. The primary tooth starts to develop during the embryonic stage.

More specifically, it starts developing below the gums while the mother is in her second trimester of pregnancy.

So, the primary dentition is the first set of teeth that a kid has, and they act as placeholders for the permanent adult teeth, which begin to grow in the child’s teen years.

The primary teeth differ from the permanent adult teeth. The lifespan of primary dentition is from about six months to five and a half years. Generally, there are 20 milk teeth distributed within the upper and lower jaw.

When does a baby have their first teeth?

Generally, children have their first teeth at about six months of age. The first tooth that appears is usually the central incisor, the middle front tooth on the lower jaw.

The second tooth that arises is the one that is just next to the first one, which is the central incisor, also in the lower jaw.

The following four teeth that appear are the four upper incisors. They start growing at about two years of age. The second molars are generally the last of primary teeth that occur when the baby is two and a half years of age.

However, you must remember that every individual is different. The appearance of the teeth might occur in different patterns and at other times, which is quite normal.

Primary teeth Vs. Permanent teeth

Distinguishing between the primary dentition and permanent teeth isn’t that difficult because most of these characteristics are prominent. To begin with, here few differences:

  1. Color

    The primary teeth are whiter in color in comparison to permanent teeth.

  2. Enamel

    Baby teeth have thinner enamel than permanent ones.

  3. Shape

    The permanent front teeth often have bums. However, they tend to wear away with time.

  4. Size

    Baby teeth are smaller than adult teeth.

  5. Roots

    Primary teeth have shorter and thinner roots than permanent teeth as they are designated to fall off.

What are the Functions of Primary Teeth?

You might feel that primary teeth fall out after a brief time in every child’s life, so why is it so important to take care of them? Primary dentition has numerous vital functions, and they are as follows:

  1. Speech development

    Speaking is a crucial development in a child and is affiliated with the baby’s teeth. Appropriate positioning of primary teeth enables the child to pronounce the correct syllable and prevents the child’s tongue from straying during speech formation.

  2. Eating

    The primary function of teeth is chewing. Thus, primary teeth aid in cutting food into finer pieces among children for better digestion.

  3. Oral Health

    Practicing oral hygiene must start early. It is often misunderstood that primary teeth have nothing to do with oral hygiene. Rather, taking care of your child’s oral health right from the beginning is crucial so that their permanent teeth are healthy and fine.

Facts every parent must know about primary teeth

The following are some aspects of primary teeth that are imperative for parents to be well-informed about:

  1. Maintaining oral hygiene of the baby’s teeth

    It is often misunderstood that baby teeth do not have essential functions, and their hygiene does not hold much importance. The primary teeth are responsible for several functions. Therefore, taking care of and ensuring their optimum hygiene is paramount. Additionally, if the baby’s teeth get damaged due to a lack of hygiene maintenance, it might cause further damage to the permanent teeth.

  2. Speech development

    Often, children might face issues with speech development because of the lack of tongue control. Parents must cater to such problems as it might lead to incorrect speech development, which may further be entangled with the child’s self-esteem.

  3. Offering optimum nutrition

    You must ensure your child maintains a healthy diet that strengthens their baby teeth. Nutritious food items reduce the possibility of tooth decay or damage. Since primary teeth are not as strong as adult ones, nutrient deficiency can damage permanent teeth.

  4. Visiting the dentist

    Every child must have their first visit to a dentist by the age when all their primary teeth have erupted. The dentist will quickly look at your child’s oral health at each dental session and offer advice for better oral hygiene.

How to maintain optimum dental hygiene for primary teeth?

Keeping those baby teeth squeaky clean can be daunting, especially with all the sugary chocolates. So, you must ensure your kid brushes their primary teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.

When speaking about toothbrushing, you must also ensure that you have chosen a soft-bristled toothbrush that is appropriate in shape. A toothbrush head that is too big might end up hurting your kid’s mouth.

Last but not least, it is crucial for you to visit a pediatric dentist every six months to ensure that your kid maintains optimum oral hygiene.

Are you ready to take care of your child's primary teeth?

The primary tooth of every child is a vital part of the process of teething. Milk teeth have essential functions like eating, chewing, speaking, etc. Repeated issues with their teeth can result in difficulties with chewing and speaking, so as a parent, you must ensure that all primary teeth are healthy.

Additionally, primary teeth have far-reaching effects. The baby teeth hold a place for the permanent teeth, so an early loss of these milk teeth can cause crowding and subsequent orthodontic problems. It can also make orthodontic treatment more complicated.

Therefore, maintaining optimal oral hygiene is one of your most important tasks as a parent. Oh! and do not forget to take care of your oral health too!

Dr. Michael

Dr. Michael

MSc Implantology, Bonn University, Germany