Parents sometimes view baby teeth as practice teeth, since they’re replaced by adult teeth between 6 and 12 years of age. Baby teeth, however, aren’t merely for children to practice brushing and flossing. They serve important roles during children’s development and, therefore, should be well cared for. Here’s a look at what baby teeth do, along with how to care for them so that they can do their jobs.
Baby Teeth Serve Several Purposes
Like adult teeth, baby teeth are used for eating, speaking and smiling. Without healthy teeth, kids are much less likely to do these daily activities, and the effects can be devastating. For instance:
- Kids with painful cavities may avoid eating crunchy vegetables and miss out on the vegetables' nutritional value
- Kids with decaying teeth might have a hard time learning to pronounce certain morphemes (small, or fine, portions of words) properly
- Kids with discolored or missing teeth likely won’t want to smile, which can lead to a lower self-esteem
Baby teeth also play a significant role in a child’s dental development. Each baby tooth holds a place for an adult tooth. If a baby tooth is lost before the adult tooth is ready to come in, adjacent teeth can drift into the open space. When the adult tooth does erupt, it and the adjacent tooth will be trying to fill the same spot. This leads to crooked teeth and crowded smiles later in life, which can require more serious dental work to correct.
Baby Teeth Require Proper Dental Care
Because baby teeth play such a significant part in children’s development, the teeth need to be properly cared for. They are, after all, susceptible to decay just as adult teeth are. In fact, Dental Associates reports that 50 percent of children will suffer from tooth decay by the time they turn 5 years old.
To help your child prevent their baby teeth from decaying, teach them to eat healthy, brush and floss properly and see a dentist regularly. These simple steps are an investment in their teeth, as well as an investment in their nutrition, speech development and self-esteem.
Have a Dentist Check Your Child’s Teeth
For help caring for your child’s teeth, bring them in to see Dr. Jody L. Wright. Dr. Wright specializes in pediatric oral health and would be glad to check your child’s pearly whites. If there are any issues, she can recommend ways of correcting the problems. If your child’s teeth look good, she’ll clean them and encourage your child to continue in their healthy habits. To make an appointment with Dr. Wright, contact our office.