Are Baby Teeth Important?

Humans get two sets of teeth in their lifetime. Primary teeth, more commonly referred to as baby teeth, start erupting around the first year of life. Most children typically have a full set of baby teeth by age 3. From ages 6 to 12, the baby teeth start to become loose and fall out to make room for permanent teeth. 

Healthy Baby Teeth Are Essential For Oral Development

Since baby teeth are around for such a short amount of time compared to permanent teeth, you may be wondering if it is really that important to take diligent care of them. Baby teeth are critical to children’s health and oral development. Not only do they help children chew and speak, but they also hold space in the mouth and jaws for their permanent counterparts. If a baby tooth is knocked out early, permanent teeth may drift into the empty space, leading to major misalignments when the permanent teeth start to erupt. 

Practicing excellent oral hygiene and wearing a mouthguard while playing contact sports help protect baby teeth until they are ready to come out on their own. However, sometimes losing a baby tooth early is unavoidable. If a baby tooth does get knocked out, remember to contact your dental office immediately and try to put the tooth back in the socket or store the tooth in milk to keep it alive until you can see the dentist. 

Cavities on baby teeth can affect the health of the permanent teeth under the gums. Since tooth decay is an infection, it can be passed on to neighboring teeth, including unerupted permanent teeth. Pediatric cavities aren’t inevitable and can be prevented with proper oral care. 

Tips for Keeping Baby Teeth Healthy

  • Before baby teeth erupt, clean the baby’s gums with a wet washcloth after feeding starting a few days after birth 
  • When baby teeth start to erupt, prevent baby bottle tooth decay by filling the baby’s bedtime bottle with water instead of milk or formula
  • Brush the baby teeth twice a day as soon as they begin to erupt and start flossing them as soon as they touch
  • Start taking the baby to the dentist when their first tooth erupts and continue seeing the dentist semiannually 

Even though baby teeth have relatively short lives, taking care of them helps ensure the underlying permanent teeth are healthy and grow in correctly. Taking care of baby teeth just as attentively as permanent teeth will set your child up for a healthy smile that lasts a lifetime.

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