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Pediatric  Dental  Health

December 1, 2002


For an infant, the mouth is a very sensitive area which he uses to meet his mother, to satisfy his constant hunger,
to comfort himself, and to explore objects in the new world around him.

A child's primary teeth, sometimes called "baby teeth," are as important are the permanent adult teeth.
Primary teeth often begin to appear when infants are 6 months old, and help them chew and speak.
The first baby tooth to erupt is the lower primary central incisor.

The eruption of baby teeth begins when other changes in an infant's immune system, growth, and development are also occurring. The eruption of the primary teeth usually begins around 6 months of age. This is, coincidentally, when infants have lost most of their maternally-derived antibody protection. By the age of 6 months, the number of maternal antibodies has decreased to a very low level, predisposing an infant to a variety of infections.

Drooling in infants reaches its maximum level just before tooth eruption. This is because in early infancy, the ability to swallow all of the saliva is not yet well-developed. Putting objects in the mouth, and biting them, also first occurs at the time of teething. This newly-acquired ability to "mouth" objects is simply part of the normal neurological development of a child.

What can be done about the pain associated with teething?