“Why should we care about baby teeth?” “They fall out and are replaced, right?”
These are common questions among adults. The truth of the matter is, baby teeth are very important!
In this column, we explain the critical importance of the primary teeth (baby teeth) and discuss their role in preparing for a child’s healthy development.
Dentists all over the world, pause in February to celebrate National Children Dental Health Month. An important step in this process is to inform the general public and our patients of the importance of good dental health in infants and children. Healthy children set the stage for a wholesome prospect of good dental health as adults and a lifetime of good overall health and wellness.
Primary teeth or baby teeth, are very important to a child’s physical, emotional and social development. Here are six reasons why baby teeth should be just as important for parents and caregivers as their permanent teeth.
- Tooth positioning – The primary teeth save space for the adult teeth and guide the adult teeth into their proper position. If the baby tooth is lost early due to tooth decay, the adjacent teeth tend to drift or tip into that space. Therefore, the permanent tooth has less room to come in and can be blocked from erupting into that space. This causes the classic “crooked teeth”.
- Healthy permanent teeth – The permanent teeth develop very close to the roots of the baby teeth. Baby teeth are much smaller and since the enamel is thinner, cavities can spread very quickly. The baby tooth cavity can easily become infected or abscessed. Since the abscess is close to the permanent tooth, it can prevent tooth development and cause damage to the permanent tooth underneath.
- Proper health and nutrition – Teeth are needed for chewing. Dental pain from cavities can affect the child’s ability to eat properly thereby the child suffers from nutritional deficiencies. If cavities are left untreated, the child can experience a severe infection. This infection can spread to other areas of the body and even to the brain. Unfortunately, there have been reported cases where children have died from a dental abscess.
- Speech and facial development – The tongue, lips and cheeks bounce off teeth when forming sounds. The presence and proper alignment of baby teeth assist in the formation of correct pronunciation during speech. Also, the teeth provide support for the developing facial muscles and give shape to your child’s face.
- Concentration in School – If a child suffers from dental pain, it can greatly affect their ability to concentrate and learn effectively in school. This leads to children being absent from school creating additional challenges for parents and caregivers who may have to take time away from work.
- Self-confidence- Children with decayed front teeth tend not to smile or may cover their mouth when speaking. Sometimes, they stop playing with other children. A healthy smile helps give children the self-confidence needed to have good social experiences.
Teaching your child to develop good oral care habits with their primary teeth, is very important. These early habits like brushing when they awake and before bedtime will help them keep their permanent teeth healthy for life.
Healthy teeth lead to a healthy life!
Dr. Kendal V. O. Major is Founder and CEO of Center for Specialized Dentistry which is a comprehensive family dental practice operating in Nassau and Freeport. He is the first Bahamian Specialist in gum diseases and dental implants since 1989. He also is a certified Fast braces provider. His practice is located at 89 Collins Avenue, Nassau at (242)325-5165 or [email protected]