February is National Children’s Dental Health Month… what a good time to talk about baby teeth! Some people think of baby teeth as expendable teeth since they will inevitably fall out one day and be replaced by permanent teeth. So why is it important to take great care of them and keep them in ideal shape? Here are a few reasons why you’ll want to baby those baby teeth:
- It sets the foundation for your child to take great care of their teeth later in life. Proper, thorough brushing with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and regular check-ups are the foundation of healthy teeth. Childhood habits often last into adulthood, so all these good dental habits should be started early!
- Baby teeth are placeholders for adult teeth. Keeping them in place until the permanent teeth are ready to grow in (or until an orthodontist recommends they come out) is a wise way to prevent malocclusion as adult teeth erupt. Malocclusion can make teeth more difficult to clean, and poorly cleaned teeth can increase the chances of dental caries (cavities). Also, if adult teeth erupt improperly it can require years of costly orthodontic treatment to correct.
- They are important to your child’s nutrition. Children who are able to chew food well may be better able to get optimum nutrition for their growing bodies. Well-chewed food can also reduce chances of choking on food while eating.
- They play a role in your child’s ability to communicate. Teeth are important to many of the sounds of speech and for proper pronunciation and communication. As children are still learning spoken language, a normal configuration of baby teeth can facilitate proper formation of sounds, making them more easily understood by others.
- Some baby teeth have no successor and never fall out! Sometimes the body simply doesn’t form an adult tooth as it should… and sometimes these baby teeth that are retained into adulthood and can be made to function and look like an adult tooth in some cases. In many cases, though, they need to be extracted and replaced with an entirely prosthetic tooth- a baby tooth with restorations or decay is more likely to require that.
So there are a few reasons why taking great care of baby teeth is a great idea. If baby teeth are knocked out by injury or extracted due to decay, there is the potential for all kinds of complications ranging from aesthetic to functional. And creating a strong foundation of excellent oral hygiene is a preventive measure that could save your child the hassle, distress, and financial burden of major dental restorations as an adult.
At Mall of Georgia Dentistry, we think baby teeth are awesome and deserve respect, so let us know if you have concerns about you child’s teeth and we’ll jump at the chance to help you keep your little one’s little pearly whites just right! Happy National Children’s Dental Health Month!