Baby Teeth Are Important Too!

Category: Dr. Advocate's Insights, Kids Dentistry, Oral Health

Dr Advocate Avatar IconBy: Dr. Advocate
Updated: January 19, 2023

Cute little girl brushing her baby teeth

One of the worst feelings for a parent is taking your child to the dentist for a routine cleaning only to find out that they have cavities. You may find yourself wondering, “What went wrong? I thought we were doing a great job brushing!” As dentists, we feel for the parent and child during those difficult conversations. Fortunately, The baby’s teeth will fall out and be replaced with new permanent teeth.

Children will ultimately have 20 baby teeth total, ten on the upper arch and ten on the lower arch.

Some babies have an erupted tooth at birth while others have to wait until they are 6-8 months old. The lower front teeth are usually the first to appear. Teething, excess saliva and an elevated temperature are common during the eruption of baby teeth. Don’t be alarmed if you see a black and blue bubble forming over the area where a baby tooth will appear. This is called an eruption cyst and is harmless. The remaining baby teeth will erupt at varying stages until the child has a full set by 24-36 months.

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1. Primary teeth function

Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, serve many essential functions for children. Speech is mastered when the tongue touches various aspects of the mouth. For example, the word “church” requires the tongue to gently contact the roof of the mouth behind the front teeth. The number “55” requires the lower lip to contact the upper front teeth. “Thank you” requires the tip of the tongue to touch the tip of the upper front teeth. Speech is vital for communication and expressing emotions, and teeth play an essential role in this process.

Related: Read more about Kids Dentistry

In addition, teeth are necessary for chewing food. If food is not adequately broken down, it can lead to indigestion or stomach aches. In addition, primary teeth play a vital role in the growth of adult teeth.

2. Establishing healthy habits

Healthy habits are essential to maintaining long-term oral health. These habits begin early with lightly brushing children’s teeth when they first appear. The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that parents take their children to the dentist within six months of their first baby tooth eruption. Also, they recommend using a smear amount of fluoride toothpaste to prevent tooth decay. When the child learns how to spit (around age 3), they can use a pea-size amount of fluoride toothpaste. Let’s take a closer look at other healthy habits for children.

  • Limit sugary foods and drinks
  • Limit frequency of sugary foods and drinks
  • Brush twice a day
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet
  • Consume recommended daily amount of water
  • No sugary drinks before naptime or bedtime
  • Visit a dentist every six months
  • Parents or caretakers regularly see a dentist (prevent bacteria transmission)

Related: Top 5 Best Kids Electric Toothbrush Review

3. Managing dental issues

After facing the reality that your child has cavities, the next step is treating the issue. Unfortunately, just as it is for adults, visiting the dentist can be intimidating for children. Therefore, it’s essential to project a calm, helpful demeanor to help your child feel most comfortable.

When a cavity is discovered in a child, it will be treated on a case-by-case basis, depending on the size of decay, the child’s age, and anxiety level. Your general dentist may feel comfortable treating your child, or, if they’re not, they will refer them to a pediatric dentist, also known as a Pedodontist.

Related: Learn more about a Pediatric Dentist

4. Maintaining space

Suppose baby teeth are removed, and spacing is not maintained. In that case, adjacent teeth are prone to crowd and limit space for erupting permanent teeth, leading to many problems, including overbite, overjet, malocclusions, and crossbites. Space maintainers may be required to prevent undesired movement of adjacent teeth.

Related: Read more about Kids Dentistry

Another potential problem experienced by children is an infected baby tooth that damages the developing permanent tooth below. Dental infections can pose many problems for kids, including systemic health issues, pain, and damage to developing permanent teeth. If malocclusions occur, a referral to an Orthodontist will be necessary to formulate a corrective game plan.

Final thoughts

Baby teeth are important too. Children will need constant reminders and assistance to brush their teeth twice daily. It’s an essential responsibility that parents and caregivers take to help maintain their children’s oral health. Diligence is vital to developing healthy brushing habits. Be sure your children are brushing on the inside of the lower teeth and outside of the upper teeth, as this is the most common area for plaque to accumulate. Do your best to be patient, and remember that every day is an opportunity to help them develop healthy habits.

Recommended Reading: Best Dental Pearls of Wisdom | Part 1

The more you know, the more healthy habits you can develop, saving you and your family from avoidable and potentially expensive dental procedures. Talk to your dental professional for more suggestions on improving oral health and check back for more blog posts and relevant information. Please share this site and let us know what else you’d like to know!

Dr Advocate Avatar IconAbout the Author

Dr. Advocate is a board-certified dentist with 5+ years of clinical practice experience on a mission to provide accurate dental patient education. He believes everyone should access easy-to-read dental resources presented in layperson’s terms with relevant, up-to-date dental research and insight to improve their oral health.

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