Did you know that teeth begin growing in babies whilst they are still in the womb, as early as 11 weeks into their development? By the time they are born, their first set of teeth (primary) is already mineralised and in position, ready to erupt from about the age of 6 months. This means that beyond that delightfully gummy first smile lies a fully developed set of baby teeth, 20 in all, which will later follow the natural order and grow into position to help your baby learn to talk and chew food.
However; as a parent, you are naturally very curious about your child's development. This means that seeing gaps between your child's teeth, once those teeth have all fully erupted, might cause you some concern. Yes, a gappy smile is cute in children, but as a parent you might wonder whether it is a sign that something is wrong with your child's oral health.
A Gappy Smile is Normal in Babies
Unlike the gaps between adults teeth, referred to as diastemas, the gaps between a baby's teeth are usually temporary. They are also nature's way of ensuring there is enough room for your child's permanent teeth to come through. A child's first set of teeth contains only 20 teeth, whereas the second set of teeth contains 32, and therefore requires more room.
By the time your child's permanent teeth come through, their upper and lower jaw will have also grown in size to accommodate the individually larger and more numerous set of adult teeth. Therefore, you can see from this, just how important it is that your child has at least some spacing between each of their baby teeth.
The Gap Between the Two Front Teeth
Once the permanent teeth have come through, your child's smile should be relatively gap free. However, if the gap between the two upper, central incisors remains, even after your child's permanent teeth have come through, this could mean that the stringy piece of tissue (maxillary frenulum) which connects your child's upper lip to the gum situated between the two upper front teeth is too large or too low on the gum.
This causes a gap, and a gappy smile in teenagers or adults, while often considered cute, is far less desirable than a gappy smile in infants. However, correcting this issue is a simple matter of some minor surgery, which involves your dentist snipping the connective tissue between the gums and teeth.
No Gaps Could Mean Braces Later
Because those little gaps between a child's baby teeth generally serve as placeholders for the larger and more numerous adult teeth to come through, a lack of gaps could mean that there isn't enough space for permanent teeth to come through into. If there isn't enough space, this could lead to overcrowding issues. Not only do overcrowded teeth make for a crooked smile, they are also much more difficult to clean, and therefore come with a greater risk of decay.
Gaps are good when it comes to baby teeth. However, if you are worried that your child might not have enough room for their permanent teeth to come through, or have noticed that one or more permanent teeth are coming through in the wrong position, talk with a local dentist. Your child may require braces in order to make room for their permanent teeth, and to ensure that they can smile with confidence as an adult.
You may have heard that cavities and oral decay are linked to things like heart disease, and, in fact, your oral health affects your entire body. Hi! My name is Brenda, and I like to look at things holistically. Because of that, I created this blog. I plan for its posts to look at the link between dental issues and other health issues. I hope that the people who visit this blog learn a few tips about oral care as well as gaining a deeper understanding of why it's so important. Healthy smiles indicate a healthy body, and I hope this blog helps you achieve both!