Six Reasons Baby Teeth Are Important

As a pediatric dentist, parents ask me “Why should I be concerned about my child’s baby teeth when they’ll fall out anyway?” Here are six top reasons why baby teeth count.

About baby teeth

We don’t usually think of infants' as having teeth, but they do. Your child’s teeth actually start forming before birth. ”Baby Teeth” or “milk teeth” (because of their exceptional whiteness) start to erupt at about six months of age. Usually the first teeth to come in are four top and bottom front teeth. Baby teeth keep coming in for the next two to three years, until there are a total of 20 baby teeth.

These baby teeth are destined to be replaced by adult or permanent teeth. The roots of a baby tooth, which are anchored in the jaw, slowly dissolve. Loosening of the tooth and its subsequent loss are followed by replacement with an underlying adult tooth.

Baby teeth fall out in the same order that they emerged. Most children start losing baby teeth around six or seven years old. By 12 to 14 years-old most children have all their permanent teeth. The adult molars come in behind the baby teeth as the jaws grow. But some won’t lose their last “baby”molars until their late teens or early 20s!

This process continues until approximately age 21 if the third molars (or wisdom teeth) are able and allowed to erupt. Adults have 28 permanent teeth, or up to 32 including the third molars (or wisdom teeth).

Pediatric dental care assures that baby teeth and gums stay healthy. This sets the stage for the healthy permanent teeth. Plan a visit to our Upper East side pediatric dentistry office for your child now. We’re dedicated to creating your child’s early dental health and lifetime beautiful smile.

Why Baby Teeth Are Important

Baby teeth are important to your child’s physical, emotional and social development. As a pediatric dentist, my practice is dedicated to making sure children enjoy the best dental health from infancy to adulthood.

With proper dental care, tooth decay is almost entirely preventable and optimum oral health can last a lifetime. Here’s why baby teeth count:

1. Eating - Baby teeth allow your child to chew his/her food and to develop proper chewing and swallowing habits. Dental pain from cavities can lead to nutritional deficiencies if the child is not able to properly chew their food.

2. Speech - The presence and proper positioning of baby teeth assist in the formation of correct pronunciation during speech. That’s particularly important during the early years when your child learns to speak.

3. Alignment of Adult Teeth -Under normal circumstances, a baby tooth remains in your child’s mouth until it’s replaced by an emerging adult tooth. Permanent teeth develop and grow underneath baby teeth until they’re ready to break through the gums. The baby tooth serves as a placeholder, saving space for properly aligned adult teeth.

Loss of a baby tooth, for whatever reason, including cavities, trauma, or heredity, leaves a space. This may lead to the shifting of other teeth, and can cause adult teeth to be crooked.

4. Self Esteem - Children are cognizant of their appearance. Crooked teeth, bad breath due to oral bacteria, or ugly teeth with large cavities will reduce a child’s self-confidence. This can cause him/her to avoid smiling, or being in photos or group activities. Crooked or unhealthy teeth can affect your child’s entire personality.

5. Healthy Baby Teeth Lead to Healthy Adult Teeth. The main cause of damage to baby teeth is oral bacteria in acidic foods, drinks, and snacks. This damage can cause pain and infection. Enamel, the hardest material in the human body, forms the outer covering of each tooth. Bacterial in these acids eat away the enamel, leading to cavities.

Baby teeth can get cavities. Large cavities and abscesses in baby teeth establish a bacterial petri dish affecting the eruption of permanent teeth. If your child’s baby teeth are not kept healthy, the permanent teeth will be more susceptible to cavities and dental problems forever.

6. Dental health affects overall health. Tooth decay is the most common chronic disease of childhood. It remains an epidemic among our nation’s children. Research shows that it can cause lasting harm to a child’s oral and general health. It can even potentially influence social, emotional and intellectual development.

At what age should kids start going to the dentist?

You should start caring for your child’s teeth while they’re still in the womb! My published research shows that the mother’s diet during pregnancy influences the child’s life-long taste preference for sweets. That preference can lead to poor oral health beginning in infancy.

Your child should visit our Manhattan pediatric dentistry office by his/her first birthday, or when the first tooth arrives. The earlier an infant visits the children’s dentist, the better.

We provide gentle, individualized children’s dentistry with the latest in dental technology. Our goal is to teach your child how to form healthy dental habits that will last a lifetime. With good oral care and a healthy diet, it can be possible to raise a cavity-free child.