Baby Teeth Matter
Baby teeth, also called primary teeth, begin to grow or “erupt” through a baby's gums anywhere from three months of age to twelve months of age. Baby teeth are very important for several reasons, including learning to chew correctly, speak correctly, and make an appropriate template for permanent teeth to grow in. Because of the importance of baby teeth, you should schedule your child's first dental visit shortly after the first one appears and always prior to one year of age. Proper care of baby teeth can lead to good oral hygiene and health for a lifetime. Oral health gifts children with a confident and healthy smile for life.
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The first baby teeth usually begin to erupt around the age of 6 months. By the time your child has reached the age of 2 or 3, they will have all 20 baby teeth. These teeth are temporary, which often leads many parents to believe that they are not important, except for giving their child an adorable smile. This belief could not be further from the truth. While the baby teeth are only temporary, they are quite important and need to be properly cared for to ensure that they stay in place until they are ready to come out naturally. Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry is here to help.
What Functions Do the Baby Teeth Perform?
While the baby teeth are often seen as unimportant because they only eventually fall out to be replaced with adult teeth, they have several essential responsibilities.
Causes of Premature Tooth Loss
For most children, the baby teeth fall out on their own when they are ready. This usually begins occurring around the age of 6. There are, however, certain situations in which the baby teeth may fall out prematurely.
Effects of Premature Tooth Loss
Premature loss of baby teeth can cause several different complications. One of the most significant issues caused by premature loss is that the surrounding teeth can begin to shift out of their natural alignment. Not only does this throw off the bite, but it can also affect the development of the adult teeth. Because the other baby teeth have shifted out alignment, the adult tooth attempting to erupt into the empty space may be blocked. This can lead to such complications as alignment issues with the adult teeth as well as an increased risk for tooth decay and gum disease.
Cavities in baby teeth can also impact the development of adult teeth. If a cavity in a baby tooth is not treated, an infection can develop inside of that tooth. This infection can actually spread into the adult tooth developing below the gum line.
What if My Child Loses a Tooth Too Early?
If your child loses a tooth prematurely, there is something that can be done. In many cases, a space maintainer may be recommended. A space maintainer can be fixed or removable, and it is designed to hold the empty space for the adult tooth developing below. It resembles an orthodontic device and prevents the surrounding teeth from shifting out of their natural alignment.
Even though the baby teeth are only temporary, they play an important role in the mouth of your child. Keeping their baby teeth healthy with regular brushing, flossing, and dental cleanings and exams is essential for ensuring that they stay in place until they are ready to come out on their own. Call Douglas L. Park, DDS, Pediatric Dentistry today for more information at (503) 663-8141.