Premature Babies Prime Candidates for Cavities

Even though they do not have any teeth yet, premature babies can expect to have dental complications as they grow older.

About 6% of babies are born before their due date and below 7.2 pounds; of these, up to 70% will have enamel hypoplasia when their teeth erupt, according to a recent dental study. Enamel hypoplasia will cause teeth to look brownish, be softer, less smooth, or more prone to decay or chipping.

Children with the lowest birth weight and shortest gestational ages have the lowest rates of dental development, particularly before 6 years of age. Children who were born prematurely can have delays in the eruption of their baby teeth and even their permanent teeth. When the teeth do erupt, they can look stained and brownish.

The front teeth are the first to erupt at 6 to 8 months, and the back teeth erupt between 18 and 24 months. Prematurely born children should be taken to the dentist regularly, even at this early stage, because they are more likely to be candidates for cavities than children born at term.

Source: Academy of General Dentistry

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