At one point in time, we all had baby teeth. As we develop, however, those baby teeth eventually become loose. The looser they get, the more they lose stability. Then not long later, they end up falling out and are later replaced by adult teeth. These adult teeth are also called secondary teeth or permanent teeth. We all know this process pretty well as we’ve all gone through it. One big misconception, though, is that baby teeth don’t matter because they’re just temporary and that only the permanent set of teeth matter. This couldn’t be further from the truth; the importance of baby teeth is often overlooked but definitely exists.
The Primary Teeth are More Critical Than One Might Think
Not to knock the importance of permanent teeth, but baby teeth, in a way, are more important than their permanent counterpart. We say this because baby teeth are essentially the foundation of healthy adult teeth.
To start, your child’s primary teeth temporarily help them chew and speak until their adult teeth come in. In addition, they act as a placeholder to shape the face. (Our face would be shaped pretty silly if we didn’t have teeth until we were older!)
What is more, if baby teeth receive the adequate care they require early on, this will help the child get a good headstart on their oral standing. And, if their parents teach them the importance of caring for their baby teeth now, they will surely be experts when caring for their permanent teeth.
Another reason for the importance of baby teeth? Without having these temporary teeth in place, adult teeth would struggle to come in later. Baby teeth hold a place in the gum tissue for the second set of teeth after all. Compare a baby tooth to your friend who you asked to save your spot in line at the store. When you return in line, checking out is faster and so much smoother. It’s a convenience that your baby teeth also get to enjoy.
Based on this information, the importance of baby teeth can’t be ignored or overlooked!
What Happens if Baby Teeth Are Lost too Early?
If baby teeth are lost too early, say, if a child experiences frequent tooth decay and their teeth fall out sooner than expected or need to be pulled at the dentist, this can cause some issues in the future.
Sadly, a child with premature baby tooth loss might experience problems with their adult teeth as they begin to grow in. Because the baby teeth were lost too soon, the adult teeth might accidentally drift in another space in the jaw. In turn, the adult teeth may grow in crooked or become crowded.
Due to the latter, your child might need early intervention and treatment from an orthodontist. In serious cases, a child may even have to have an adult tooth or teeth pulled by their dentist. This is called tooth extraction. Tooth extraction is a common procedure for those with overcrowded teeth.
If overcrowded teeth are not resolved via orthodontic treatment or tooth extraction, this can cause more problems. For one, teeth experiencing overcrowding may make it harder for one to brush and floss their teeth. As a result, they may experience a higher risk of cavities and gum problems. Aside from this, a case of overcrowding can lead to chronic headaches, tooth clenching, and both neck and jaw pain.
How to Help Your Child Have Healthy Baby Teeth to Facilitate Strong Permanent Teeth
The importance of baby teeth is clear. That being said, a good set of adult teeth starts with caring for your child’s teeth early on. Fortunately, there are ways that you as a parent can help your little one develop healthy adult teeth in the near future.
This means regularly washing your infant’s gums with a soft, clean, wet towel. We recommend doing this once in the morning and once at night as well as after feedings. Even before the baby teeth erupt, it’s critical to care for your child’s oral health!
Within six months of your child getting their first baby tooth or once they turn a year old (whichever comes first), it’s time to take them to the dentist. Here, your baby’s dentist will have their tooth and/or gums looked at to ensure proper development and good oral standing. You may receive recommendations as a parent for how you can further help your child to have good oral health going forward. Now is also the time for a dentist to spot oral health problems early before they progress.
Once your little one gets their very first tooth, it’s time to whip out the good ol’ brush and toothpaste. Brushing should be done at least twice a day, even when a child only has one tooth. And once your kiddo begins to develop adjacent teeth, it’s time to start flossing.
These good oral health habits might seem tedious, especially early on, but they’re oh-so-necessary.
How to Encourage my Child to Care for their Teeth
One of the most difficult jobs as a parent is getting them to do things that they don’t want to do. We’ve all struggled to keep our kids still while running errands. Even during their infant years, our kids might have refused to eat certain foods. It can be a struggle for sure.
Another big struggle parents have is making sure their kids learn the responsibility of taking charge of their oral health. Many kids hate responsibilities, let alone, having to remember to partake in them on a daily basis. But not all hope is lost.
First and foremost, remind your child of the importance of baby teeth. Let them know that if they want strong, beautiful, shiny teeth, they must brush and floss them each day. Otherwise, they might experience tooth pain, not be able to enjoy their favorite treats like ice cream and hot chocolate, and have to go to a dentist for help. Also mention the Tooth Fairy to your kids. If they have a healthy tooth that falls out, they can receive money or a little toy. Every child loves the Tooth Fairy and what she brings!
Secondly, it’s important to make the process of caring for teeth fun. Let your kiddo pick out their own toothbrush and toothpaste. Consider getting your child a toothbrush that plays music, lights up, or has some other fun feature. Encourage your children to care for their teeth by showing them cartoons about kids going to the dentist. You might even be able to get your hands on a book about brushing one’s teeth. There are even children’s songs out there about brushing and flossing the teeth.
Healthy Adult Teeth Start with the Parents
Remember: a child isn’t going to automatically know that they need to care for their pearly whites. Chances are, they don’t know what cavities are yet, know how they happen, or even believe that they exist.
Any way that you can instill positivity and fun into caring for the teeth for your children is critical. Even if your kiddo is struggling with caring for their teeth now, you can still find ways to motivate them. A progress chart to record your child’s advancements and rewarding your child with little trinkets or treats for their dental achievements can be a great starting point. With time, they will eventually get in the habit of caring for their gums and teeth without needing anything in return.