It may seem pointless to take care of baby teeth when you know they’re temporary, but trust us – taking care of your baby’s primary teeth is well worth the investment. Even though your child’s teeth will naturally fall out in order to make way for permanent teeth, these initial teeth serve more than one purpose while they are in place. Our pediatric dentist at Epic Dentistry for Kids, Dr. Patterson, understands the purpose and anatomy of the baby tooth and he’s here to tell you that they absolutely do matter! Here are just a few reasons you should take special care of those pearly whites:
They make space for permanent teeth
In order for the baby teeth to hold the position for the permanent teeth, they must stay healthy. If we don’t take care of them they could be lost prematurely. When one baby tooth is lost, the ones nearby tend to drift into the empty space, making it impossible for the permanent tooth to take its proper place. The permanent tooth may try to come in sideways, creating an improper bite. This could lead to all types of malocclusions or joint problems that are costly and time consuming to fix later in life. Another risk is that the baby tooth will block the permanent tooth’s path to eruption. This could lead it to stay under the gum line as an impacted tooth. Either scenario could lead to major problems in the future.
Fortunately, there is a backup plan.
Your pediatric dentist in Aurora can replace a missing baby tooth with something called a “space maker.” It is actually a crown that is installed in the space between the two adjacent remaining teeth to keep them from moving toward each other. Now the permanent tooth is free to erupt into its rightful position. A space maintainer is only used when a baby tooth has been lost too soon due to an accident or decay.
Cavities in baby teeth can be deadly
What could be the harm of leaving one little cavity? A lot, actually.
Not only are cavities painful and annoying, they can be detrimental to your child’s wellbeing. If a cavity in a baby tooth is left to develop into the nerve of the tooth, it can cause an infection in the root.
Some studies have left reason to believe that an infection that reaches into the root of a baby tooth can actually cause some damage to the permanent tooth that is waiting to erupt. In the worst case scenario, a cavity could result in an abscess. Once the bacteria enters the bloodstream, it can affect other parts of the body, leading to sepsis. Of course, this is extremely rare, but it’s better to be safe than sorry!
If you suspect your child has a cavity, call your pediatric dentist to set up an appointment for a dental filling. The doctor will be able to remove all the decay and plaque before it gets worse. Then, they will fill the cavity with a strong, durable material like composite resin or amalgam. This will protect the teeth and prevent them from getting more cavities in the same spot!
To prevent cavities in the future, we recommend parents to supervise their children’s sugar intake. Too much sugar from milk, bread, candy, etc. allows bacteria to create acid that wears away the enamel. Parents can gently scrub their baby’s teeth after meals with a clean washcloth or finger brush to remove plaque and food debris.
Babies need to eat
If it wasn’t obvious, babies need to eat! Teeth aid in basic functions like eating and speaking, Without teeth, your baby could have trouble eating solid foods as they grow older. This could lead to malnutrition and sickness. Teeth are also necessary for babies to make certain sounds with their mouths. Missing baby teeth can cause your child to have trouble as they learn to talk.
Foods that are great for the development of baby teeth include milk, cheese, yogurt, fruits, and veggies. These items contain important nutrients such as calcium, fiber, and vitamins that are vital to developing strong teeth and bones. Talk to a pediatric nutritionist or dentist to learn more about what to feed your child for healthy teeth.
Baby teeth matter. Taking care of your baby’s teeth will allow your child to grow up normally and healthily. Best of all, you’ll be able to see their cute little smiles!
Seeing the pediatric dentist early on provides a great opportunity for parents and pediatric dentists to introduce children to good oral hygiene habits. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends parents to visit the pediatric dentist with their child by the age of one or when the first tooth erupts! The kids’ dentist can teach the whole family how to properly take care of baby teeth, even at the early stages!
When children learn about flossing and brushing at a younger age, they are much more likely to take better care of their permanent teeth. Getting off to a good start with early routine visits to the dentist’s office is key to a good dental maintenance plan.
The staff of Epic Dentistry for Kids in Aurora, CO is happy to help you with any concerns you have about baby teeth! We’re here to make sure your child gets the best pediatric dentistry in the area. Feel free to give us a call if you have any questions at all.