Many new parents feel that their child’s baby teeth (also known as primary teeth) are temporary or unimportant since “they’ll fall out eventually.” We hear this sentiment from our patients all the time, and we’d like to shed some light on the topic.
Baby teeth set the stage for a child’s oral health journey. Taking proper care of these teeth at an early age is critical for many different reasons beyond just their first few years of life.
Space Saving for Permanent Teeth
Baby teeth have been called “nature’s braces” because they help create the adequate amount of space and alignment for adult teeth. If a baby tooth suffers from tooth decay and has to be removed, the permanent tooth underneath it won’t grow in the correct position. This can create a barrier for incoming adult teeth and result in a host of potential alignment and positioning issues as your child grows into adulthood.
As baby teeth fall out, the permanent teeth beneath them begin to develop in the shared space near the baby teeth’s roots. If those roots aren’t taken care of, they can spread decay and infection to the emerging permanent teeth.
Thin enamel in baby teeth means more likelihood that a cavity can spread very quickly. If those cavities go unchecked, these teeth can become infected and create lasting problems for the permanent teeth in development.
Chewing & Cavities
A child’s teeth are, obviously, very important for developing healthy eating habits. If a child’s baby teeth aren’t properly maintained, they might not be able to chew their food well, which could lead to more serious nutritional issues and deficiencies.
When cavities form on these sensitive teeth, an infection can occur and spread throughout the body, and even the brain. Because children’s immune systems are still developing, a seemingly simple case of gum disease or infection can quickly become life threatening.
Communication & Facial Structure
In addition to oral hygiene and overall health, strong primary teeth are crucial aspects of vocal communication. When we speak, we use our lips, tongue and cheeks to push against our teeth and create the various sounds that form language. Correctly aligned baby teeth are essential for helping children with pronunciation as they learn new words.
Also, the way our teeth are structured play an important role in the way our face is physically shaped. Strong, healthy teeth grown into the right position help support the development of specific facial muscles which gives our faces their distinct shape.
It’s important to teach a growing child about the importance of oral health because establishing good habits positively affects their lifelong dental journey. Starting now will make a lasting impact on their outlook, health and confidence.
If you have any questions or concerns about baby teeth or instilling healthy dental habits in your child, we encourage you to contact us or schedule some time to speak with one of our dental team members. Our team is standing by to answer your questions and make sure you receive the best care in the most comfortable environment possible.
Dental Arts is a full-service general dentistry and orthodontic practice for the entire family. For more than three decades, we have been providing the highest quality dental and orthodontic care available to the residents of New Orleans. Explore the Dental Arts difference today.