Baby Teeth Matter
During the first few years of life, your child will have 20 baby teeth erupt through their gums. These teeth all erupt at different times, with the first one often coming in at about six months of age, and the last one emerging sometime before your child’s third birthday. Baby teeth are only temporary, which often leaves many parents with the impression that these teeth are not important, the first permanent tooth coming in somewhere between the ages of 6 and 7. At Puyallup Pediatric Dentistry, we stress the importance of caring for your child’s baby teeth so that they may set the foundation for oral health later in life.
Functions of Baby Teeth
It might not seem like it, but baby teeth (also referred to as primary teeth) are important. For one, they help your child to bite and chew their food. However, this is only one of the many crucial functions that your child’s baby teeth have. Other functions include:
What Causes Premature Tooth Loss?
In general, baby teeth will begin to fall out on their own naturally, as the adult teeth are ready to begin erupting. This usually happens between the ages of six and seven. However, baby teeth can be lost prematurely for numerous reasons:
Effects of Premature Tooth Loss
The idea that baby teeth are not important, therefore premature tooth loss is not a big deal, is a myth. In fact, a few different things can begin to happen when your child loses a baby tooth too early.
One of the biggest effects that premature tooth loss has is that their surrounding teeth can shift from their current position. Encroaching upon a space meant for a specific tooth can have serious consequences on how your child’s adult teeth grow in. When that tooth does try to grow in, it may be blocked by your child’s surrounding teeth. This can lead to issues such as overcrowding, adult teeth erupting crooked, and can make your child more vulnerable to cavities and gum disease due to poor positioning.
Cavities can also have a significant impact on the development of adult teeth. An infection in a baby tooth that goes untreated can spread into the developing permanent tooth below, spreading it to that tooth before it even erupts.
What Can Be Done if a Tooth Is Lost Early?
If your child’s baby tooth does come out prematurely, we may recommend a space maintainer. This device is similar to an orthodontic retainer and is designed to hold the space open, preventing the adjacent teeth from shifting into the empty spot.
Your child’s baby teeth are essential to the development of their adult teeth and jaw, as well as their overall oral health. Brushing, flossing, good nutrition, and regular dental visits will help to maintain the health of their baby teeth until they are ready to come out on their own. For more information, contact Puyallup Pediatric Dentistry today at (253) 864-9889!