For many parents, taking proper care of baby teeth may not seem very important, as they will eventually be replaced with permanent teeth regardless. However, making sure that your child’s baby teeth are healthy and strong is integral to both their short and long-term oral health, as well as ensuring their proper development.
Neglecting the care of your child’s baby teeth can result in several issues.
Your child will naturally lose their baby teeth as they develop. This means it is not particularly uncommon to notice gaps in children’s smiles. It takes some time for the adult teeth to come in, so living with those gaps for a natural period of time is perfectly normal.
However, it can still impact your child’s self-confidence. Children can be self-conscious about their smiles, especially when the front teeth are missing. Not only does this create a conspicuous appearance, but it can also affect their ability to speak clearly. This is not an ideal situation, but it at least passes fairly quickly when baby tooth loss is natural.
If your child loses a baby tooth due to decay or other issues caused by a lack of care, however, they could find themselves dealing with those issues for much longer. The most noticeable teeth, the central and lateral incisors, do not emerge as adult teeth until the ages of seven to nine.
This means that your child could go years with a large gap if these teeth are lost prematurely. During that time, they can feel self-conscious about their appearance, be unable to speak as well, and have more difficulty eating. Losing those baby teeth early is certainly something that your child would like to avoid.
Your child will have all of their baby teeth come in before the age of three. They can expect to lose their first tooth around six and have their molars in by thirteen or so (aside from the wisdom teeth that may emerge years later). Development over this period of time can be complex, and any missing teeth can have a lasting impact.
When a tooth is missing, whether in a child or an adult, the surrounding teeth can start to shift into its place. This can cause issues such as bad bite and malocclusion even in adult teeth, along with the increased risk of tooth decay and gum disease that come with those conditions.
Replacing the teeth with a dental bridge or dental implants can prevent this in adults, and orthodontic treatment may be necessary.
In children, the issue is further compounded by the emergence of adult teeth. When a gap is left by the premature loss of a baby tooth, the adult tooth doesn’t emerge until the natural timeframe. Other teeth can shift into the gap, causing the adult tooth to impact them upon emerging. This can lead to very complex orthodontic issues.
However, orthodontic appliances such as space maintainers can prevent this from happening if your child does lose a baby tooth prematurely.
One of the most important aspects of properly caring for your child’s baby teeth is to prevent tooth decay. Tooth decay causes cavities, which can lead to the need for fillings, a pulpotomy (similar to a root canal), or even extraction.
None of these procedures is something that a child would look forward to, and they could cause significant dental anxiety in some children.
Ensuring proper oral hygiene and dental care can prevent tooth decay as much as possible, greatly reducing the likelihood of serious issues. Tooth decay also causes sensitivity that can make eating and drinking uncomfortable for your child, and these issues only become worse once cavities take hold.
The benefits of proper care for baby teeth and the potential consequences of neglecting that care are clear. You can ensure proper care by following a few simple steps for oral hygiene, diet, and visiting the dentist.
For example, try to brush your child’s teeth as soon as they first emerge. There are a variety of soft-bristled brushes and specific toothpaste options for young children. Brushing twice each day and flossing at least once can help ensure proper oral hygiene.
Keep in mind that your child should not be brushing independently until you are sure that they are really ready.
Avoiding sugary drinks and snacks is another simple step to help prevent tooth decay. It is best not to put juice or other sugary drinks in bottles because the prolonged contact increases tooth decay. The same is true if your child is frequently sucking on a sippy cup.
Give your child water with meals or snacks to help wash away bits of food they might not be aware are stuck in their teeth.
Visiting the dentist is an important part of avoiding the potential consequences of not caring for baby teeth. Routine dental exams and cleanings ensure the continued health of your child’s baby teeth and proper development.
Children’s Dental FunZone provides a full range of pediatric dental care, including exams, cleaning, fillings, and sealants. Visit our blog to learn more about how our pediatric professionals can ensure the best oral health for your children today.