We get two sets of teeth in our lives, primary (or baby teeth) and permanent (or adult teeth).
Why is it so important to take care of my kid’s baby teeth if they are going to lose them anyway?
Baby teeth serve important functions to help ensure children are in the best shape possible for a lifetime of excellent dental health. Baby teeth help children speak clearly, chew naturally, and form a path for permanent teeth when they are ready to come into the mouth. They also serve as “practice teeth” to form good habits for lifetime care of permanent teeth.
1. Baby teeth help children speak more clearly. Teeth are needed for a variety of sounds we make in daily language. Missing a tooth or multiple teeth can impact the way we speak. Poor speech can impact how peers treat a child and negatively affect their confidence throughout their ongoing speech development.
2. Baby teeth help children chew and eat. Premature loss of baby teeth makes it harder to chew and eat in a comfortable, normal manner. Early loss of a front tooth or cavities requiring fillings or crowns on front teeth, make biting into hard things like apples and carrots hard to even impossible. Missing baby teeth in the back can make eating foods like chips more challenging and uncomfortable. Missing baby teeth in the back frequently requires space maintainers (see space maintainer blog). Space maintainers can make eating certain foods, like peanut butter sandwiches, more challenging and frustrating. These difficulties can negatively impact their life-long eating habits and their overall health.
3. Baby teeth aid in forming a path for permanent teeth when they are ready to come into the mouth. Without baby teeth to help guide the permanent teeth into the mouth, a higher percentage of children require more orthodontic work, and also may need orthodontic intervention for a longer period of time.
4. Baby teeth give everyone an opportunity to help form good habits. Baby teeth will only be in a child’s mouth for approximately 12 years in most cases. Like anything in life, we rarely develop good skills at something overnight. Establishing good habits with baby teeth will help ensure that your child develops good habits when the adult teeth arrive. Children can start to get their primary teeth as early as 4 months, and we want to make certain that both the child and the parent understand how to properly care for their teeth before these permanent teeth arrive. Baby teeth provide practice for the permanent set of teeth that will be with them for life. Think about the baby teeth in the same way you think about learning how to ride a bike. We need to start with a set of training wheels or a balance bike to learn how to ride independently.
Permanent teeth typically start to come in between the ages of 5 and 6. If we wait for their good habits only upon the arrival of their permanent teeth, we subject those teeth to less than ideal oral hygiene, which will almost guarantee cavities on baby teeth. For many reasons, we want to start good habits with the primary (or baby teeth) as early as possible.
Baby teeth are a big deal. We are here to help you understand why, answer your questions, and show you tips and tricks to make taking care of teeth easier!
Remember to brush your teeth TWICE a day and see the dentist TWICE a year!