Are baby teeth really that important to my child?

Primary, or “baby,” teeth may typically fall out around age 5 or 6, but that doesn’t mean they don’t play a large role in the health of your child’s mouth. In fact, baby teeth are as important to infants and children as permanent teeth are to older children and adults.

Healthy baby teeth:

  • Foster good nutrition through proper chewing
  • Aid in speech development
  • Build self-esteem by providing a beautiful smile
  • Enable a child to pay attention and learn in school without the distraction of dental pain
  • Save space in the jaw that is needed for proper development of adult (permanent) teeth

Not only do they help children speak clearly and chew naturally, but they also aid in forming a path that permanent teeth can follow when they are ready to erupt from under the gums. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded. That’s why starting infants off with good oral care can help protect their teeth for decades to come.

When do the first teeth start to erupt?

At about 6 months, the two lower front teeth (central incisors) will erupt, followed shortly by the two upper central incisors. The remainder of the baby teeth appear during the next 18 to 24 months but not necessarily in an orderly sequence from front to back. At 2 to 3 years, all of these 20 primary teeth should be present.

How do children lose their baby teeth?

A baby tooth usually remains in the child’s mouth until a permanent tooth underneath it is ready to emerge through the gums. The roots of the baby tooth dissolve and the tooth becomes loose and falls out. The permanent tooth “comes up” a few weeks later.

How should I deal with bleeding after my child’s tooth falls out?

Fold a piece of gauze and place it (tightly) over the bleeding area. Bite down on the gauze for 15 minutes. If bleeding continues, see a dentist.

What if a tooth is lost too early?

If a child loses a tooth before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, if it is accidentally knocked out, or if it is removed by the dentist because of a disease, then the space must be saved. A space maintainer is inserted to take the place of the “baby tooth” until the permanent tooth is ready to emerge. It “holds” the space until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, stopping the other teeth from tipping or drifting into the empty space. If teeth become crowded and out of alignment with each other, then the teeth are maloccluded. Maloccluded teeth are difficult to clean, have greater chances of becoming diseased, and later might require expensive and time-consuming orthodontic treatment.

If my child gets a cavity in a baby tooth, should it still be filled?

Some baby teeth are necessary until a child is 12 years old or longer. Pain, infection of the gums and jaws, impairment of general health and premature loss of teeth are just a few of the problems that can happen when baby teeth are neglected. Tooth decay is really an infection that will spread and could cause decay of permanent teeth. Proper care of baby teeth is instrumental in enhancing the health of your child.

Are your children’s baby teeth looking happy and healthy? If you have any doubts, schedule an appointment with us to make sure we’re keeping them on the right track. That way, we can ensure your child’s dental health will be a priority for years to come.

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