Advice Column, Health, Parenting

When do we get back teeth?

  • Dr Gerald B Kaplan
  • Category Advice Column, Health, Parenting

This panoramic x-ray is fascinating in the detail that it shows of a seven-year-old child growing and developing.

Let us look at the x-ray very closely so that you will understand why back teeth are so important in looking after from an early age.

The first thing that you might notice is that the permanent teeth are in the process of development sitting under the roots of the primary(baby). All the primary teeth are still in the mouth except for the two lower front teeth. Both permanent lower central incisors are erupting.

On the upper arch there is a full complement of primary teeth. The roots are still intact and these teeth except for the 2 upper front teeth will probably stay in the mouth for another four years.

On the lower jaw the primary teeth are still firmly attached to the bone. As the permanent teeth develop and move upwards they cause the roots of the baby teeth to dissolve. At the age of approx. 11 these baby teeth loosen and fall out allowing the permanent teeth to erupt into the mouth.

The permanent teeth that are most well developed are the first molar teeth which can be seen at the back of the mouth. These teeth have now erupted into the mouth at the tender age of between six and seven years old. These are called the six-year-old molars.

All the teeth are in an ideal state of growth and development. These teeth should last a lifetime in a healthy pristine state…with proper care and good dentistry

But, the reality is often not so. Why?

Because they erupt into the mouth at such an early age, they are extremely vulnerable to ravages of dental decay. They need very special care and attention. They are precious.

Great responsibility is needed on the part of the parent and child himself or herself to keep them sound and healthy. This involves effective plaque control; a controlled diet of as little sweets as possible; and possibly fissure sealants in the grooves on the biting surfaces of these teeth

Little cavities must be detected early and treated appropriately. If not, further decay develops.

It is important to understand what happens when these molar teeth become ravaged with the passage of time and inadequate care…

A large filling may fail if improperly restored; the tooth then needs to be root treated; the root treatment fails; the tooth is then extracted; followed by leaving a space or placing an implant… A downward cascade with the negative consequences which all could have been prevented.

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