5 Reasons Why Baby Teeth Are Just As Important As Permanent Teeth
A pediatric dentist explains why primary teeth matter
“Why do baby teeth matter? They fall out anyways, right?” I hear this question on a daily basis at the dental clinic.
The truth is that baby teeth DO matter! Primary teeth, or baby teeth, are very important to a child’s physical, emotional, and social development. Here are five reasons why baby teeth should be taken care of just as we take care of our permanent (adult) teeth.
1. Tooth alignment and position - The primary teeth save space for the adult teeth and guide the adult teeth into their proper position. If the baby tooth is lost early due to tooth decay, the adjacent teeth tend to drift or tip into that space. Therefore, the permanent tooth has less room to come in and can be blocked from erupting into that space.
2. Healthy permanent teeth - The permanent teeth develop very close to the roots of the baby teeth. Baby teeth are much smaller and cavities can spread very quickly through their thin enamel. If cavities are left untreated, the baby tooth can develop and infection or abscess which can hinder tooth development and cause damage to the permanent tooth underneath.
3. Proper health and nutrition - Teeth, of course, are needed for chewing. Dental pain from cavities can lead to nutritional deficiencies if the child is not able to properly chew their food. Also, if cavities are left untreated, there is a great risk of an infection forming. And this infection can spread to other areas of the body and even to the brain. This can turn into an emergency situation very rapidly and the child may need to be hospitalized. Unfortunately, there have been reported cases where children have died from a dental abscess.
4. Speech and facial development – The tongue, lips and cheeks deflect off teeth when forming sounds. The presence and proper positioning of baby teeth assist in the formation of correct pronunciation during speech. The tooth structure also provides support for the developing facial muscles and gives shape to your child’s face.
5. Concentration and self-esteem – If a child is having dental pain, it can greatly affect their ability to pay attention and learn in school. Decayed teeth can also interfere with a child’s social interactions and affect their confidence and self-esteem. This can also lead to children missing school and parents having to miss work if they have to take children into the dentist for emergency appointments.
The bottom line: Teaching your child to develop good oral care habits with their primary teeth is very important! These early habits will help them keep those permanent teeth healthy for life!
About the author
Dr. Patel is a dentist at Cook Children's Neighborhood Clinic on 2600 E. Berry Street in Fort Worth Texas, 76105. Dr. Patel received her dental degree in 2009 from University of Nebraska-Medical Center in Lincoln, Neb. She completed her pediatric residency in 2011 from the Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas. Dr. Patel is board certified by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry. The Neighborhood Clinic offers a dental home for patients from 6-18 years of age the clinic and most CHIP, Medicaid, and commercial insurance plans are accepted. The staff speaks English and Spanish. To learn more, click here or call 817-347-4600.