Delayed primary teeth eruption due to premature or low weight birth

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Babies’ teeth eruption usually begins at the age of six months but in some cases, it may take longer especially when a child is born prematurely or with low birth weight.

“Premature and low birth weight babies can have delayed primary tooth eruption and enamel defects, putting them at higher risk for decay,” said Dr Jyoti Bahra, of the Lotus Dental Practice in Syokimau.

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“The first tooth eruption is usually between four and 15 months of age. If the first tooth has not erupted by 18 months, the child should be referred to a dentist for evaluation.”

At six months, children should have their first teeth; at nine months, they should have four teeth. At 12 months of age babies should have eight teeth; at 18 months, they should have 12 teeth; at 21 months, they should have 16 teeth; and at 24months (two years), they should have 20 teeth.

“Eruption is usually symmetrical; lower teeth usually erupt before the upper teeth in the following pattern for primary teeth: central incisors first, lateral incisors, first molars, canines and second molars,” said Dr Bahra.

“A helpful mnemonic to remember the timing of primary eruption is the six + three rule, where the first tooth erupts in the sixth month and the next is expected to erupt in the next three months.”

In some cases however, delayed eruption of primary teeth can be due to genetics, this is according to the American Journal of Orthodontics and Dentofacial Orthopedics. “Some rare genetic abnormalities such as amelogenesis imperfecta (a disorder that causes teeth to be unusually small, discolored,prone to rapid wear and breakage) can cause poorly formed teeth and late tooth appearance.”

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