It can be easy to underestimate the significance of baby teeth. We assume that because they fall out and are replaced by new ones, they are less important. However, baby teeth are just as important to infants and children as permanent teeth are to older children and adults.
This first set of teeth is essential for language development as well as being able to eat properly. Baby teeth also serve another very important purpose: they save space for the child’s future permanent teeth. A baby tooth is intended to remain in the child’s mouth until a permanent tooth underneath it is ready to take its place. The roots of the baby tooth dissolve causing the tooth to become loose and fall out. The permanent tooth typically appears within a few weeks.
Sometimes children lose baby teeth before the permanent teeth are ready to erupt by a tooth being accidently knocked out or removed because of tooth decay. If it is a back tooth, the teeth on either side of the open space may begin to push into the open space and there may not be enough room for the permanent tooth when it is ready to erupt. This may cause the new permanent tooth to come up in an improper position, then causing other teeth to become crowded and out of alignment with each other. Crowded, misaligned teeth are often difficult to clean and have greater risk of becoming decayed. Your dentist can provide you advice on when it is important to save the space and, if necessary, can have an orthodontic appliance made to keep the space open until the permanent tooth comes in. This may prevent the need later for expensive and time-consuming orthodontic treatment.
It’s important to keep your child’s mouth healthy. Starting good oral health habits from birth is essential to not only the health of your child’s mouth but to their overall health as well.