Baby Teeth

Mother and Child.

Why is it important to take care of baby (primary) teeth?

Your child won't keep his or her first teeth forever, but that doesn't mean they don't need conscientious care! Maintaining your child's dental health now will provide health benefits well into adulthood, as primary (baby) teeth serve some extremely important functions.

Baby teeth help with proper chewing and eating and aid in speech development.  Healthy baby teeth aid in normal development of jaw bones and muscle and hold space for permanent teeth and help guide them into place.  Decay on baby teeth can lead to pain or infection, which can affect their permanent teeth and overall health.  Most children do not lose their last baby tooth until about age 12. 

It is common for parents to wonder why it is important to treat and save baby teeth since they will lose all of them and it is true that the primary (baby) teeth typically are shed between the ages of 6 and 12 years. Yet there are some good reasons for trying to save baby teeth for as long as possible with fillings, crowns or root canal treatment, rather than simply not treating the teeth or extracting all primary teeth with decay.

For one, primary teeth have the same functions as adult teeth — and a missing tooth at any age can cause problems with speech and eating. Baby teeth also have another important role: They serve as guides for the proper placement of the permanent teeth. Without primary teeth to guide them in, permanent teeth tend to emerge in a crooked fashion, often becoming tilted or crowded because of inadequate space. This can result in bite problems that may require extensive orthodontic treatment later.

Ideally, we like to treat cavities on primary teeth when they are small.  A small, white restoration typically will last the lifetime of a primary tooth and by removing the decay we will prevent it from getting larger and causing problems like pain or infection.  If a primary tooth becomes infected, it will need to be removed.  If an infection if left, it can lead to problems for the developing permanent teeth and even systemic health problems. 

If a tooth needs to be removed, we will evaluate the area for placement of a space maintainer to hold the space for the developing permanent tooth. Even though space maintainers don't fully restore the tooth's functionality, they can help prevent future orthodontic problems from early tooth loss. 

For more information call Longmont Pediatric Dentistry at 303-776-1194!

Related Articles on Baby Teeth

Root Canal Treatment for Children - Dear Doctor Magazine

Root Canal Treatment for Children's Teeth You may think that if a baby tooth comes out prematurely, it's no great loss; after all, it was going to fall out anyway, right? Wrong! Primary (baby) teeth serve as important guides for the permanent teeth that will replace them. Losing baby teeth prematurely can allow bite problems to develop. Root canal treatment for children can prevent this. Learn what to look for in your child and what can be done to save baby teeth until they are ready to be lost naturally... Read Article

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