The Importance of Baby Teeth
A common misconception is that, because primary teeth (or "baby teeth") fall out, they are not important to a child’s future oral health and do not need proper cleaning and care. However, baby teeth have several important "jobs." If baby teeth are allowed to decay and, as a consequence, must be prematurely removed, they cannot perform the following important functions:
Speech production and development – Learning to speak clearly is crucial for a child's cognitive, social, and emotional development. It is important for the child to have the necessary baby teeth to prevent the tongue from straying during speech formation and for the child be be able to perform correct syllable pronunciation.
Eating and nutrition – If baby teeth are allowed to severely decay and must be removed, children are more likely to experience dietary deficiencies. For example: if children have prematurely lost important baby teeth, they cannot bite into or chew nutritious foods such as apples and carrots, nuts, and meats. Healthy baby teeth are necessary for nutritious eating.
Self-confidence – Preschool and school-age children are known for their innocent honesty. However, sometimes that innocent honesty can inadvertently hurt feelings, especially those of other children. Taking good care of baby teeth maintains a healthy, beautiful smile and can have the benefits of building self-confidence and making your child's social interactions more pleasant.
Straighter smiles – One of the major functions of baby teeth is to be a "spacer" for adult teeth. As a spacer, the baby teeth hold a space to allow the adult teeth to emerge in the correct place, which helps the adult teeth to be properly aligned with other adult teeth. If baby teeth are allowed to severely decay and then must be prematurely removed, the remaining teeth may shift and improperly fill spaces. As a result, the child may need more intensive and prolonged orthodontic treatment.
Excellent oral health – Badly decayed baby teeth can be the beginning of childhood periodontal disease. If periodontal disease is allowed to progress, oral bacteria may invade and erode gums, ligaments, and eventually bone. Without proper cleaning and care, baby teeth can fall out prematurely (or must be removed), causing health and spacing problems for emerging adult teeth.
If you have questions or concerns about your child's baby teeth, please contact our office at 517-393-8500.
Day Family Dental
Dr. Nathan Day, DMD • Dentist • Lansing, MI