More than “Just Baby Teeth”

Many parents might find themselves wondering why we make all this fuss about baby teeth. They’re going to fall out anyway, right? It is true that the baby teeth will fall out eventually. The trouble is, some of those teeth are still in the mouth for a long time. Did you know that on average, the final baby teeth to fall out (the upper canines) aren’t lost until age 12!   

If a tooth has an infection, like cavities, or has experienced trauma, it is often recommended to treat the infection or condition in order to restore the tooth to optimal function and esthetics. This is true of a baby tooth or a permanent tooth. There are many reasons to treat baby teeth just like we would permanent teeth. Below we’ll discuss just a few.

First, baby teeth are important for a child’s self-esteem. Children are sensitive to the appearance of their smiles just like adults are – we all want to have beautiful teeth to show the world. Second, baby teeth are important for functions like speech and chewing. If any of the teeth are broken down or causing pain, chewing and speaking can be impacted and lead to negative developmental consequences. Thirdly, baby teeth are important to the overall growth and development process of the jaw. Baby teeth act as space-holders for the permanent teeth that will eventually take their place, so if a baby tooth is lost early due to disease or trauma, permanent tooth positioning and jaw development can be negatively impacted as well. Last but certainly not least, it is important to keep your child’s baby teeth healthy and functional so that your child is comfortable and pain-free. Many children with dental disease have trouble concentrating in school and they miss more school days than children with healthy teeth, so routine checkups and following through with treatment recommendations are vital to making sure your child’s teeth are healthy and your child is able to go through their day to day life comfortably.

We hope this short post has helped you see the importance of your child’s baby teeth! Be sure to brush them twice a day with fluoridated toothpaste, floss in-between them daily, limit sugar in the diet (juice and fruit snacks included!), and visit your dentist for checkups every 6 months!

This post was written by Dr. Taylor McFarland, our board-certified pediatric dentist. If you have any questions about baby teeth or any other dental topics, please call our office at 205-419-7444 or send us an email at info@shelbypediatric.com.