It is important for parents to take care of their child’s primary or baby teeth. Baby teeth serve several critical roles in the proper development of adult or permanent teeth, and to future oral health.
Baby teeth set the pattern for the emergence of the underlying permanent teeth. The baby teeth serve as space holders so that the underlying adult teeth maintain proper alignment and grow in within their correct positions.
Early loss of baby teeth makes the remaining baby teeth shift their position, and the underlying permanent teeth with them. This can lead to the need for braces later in life or other orthodontic problems. Baby teeth also aid in the development of the jawbone and jaw muscles which helps to ensure a properly aligned adult bite.
Most little ones start getting their primary or “baby” teeth between six and ten months of age. The front middle teeth, also known as the central incisors, usually are the first to emerge. These are then followed by the teeth on either side and then emergence progresses its way back to the second molars. Most children will have all of their baby teeth by the time they are three.
When Do We Start to Lose Baby Teeth?
The age at which healthy baby teeth begin to be replaced varies, but the process usually starts when the child is about seven years old. A substantial loss of baby teeth significantly younger than that can be indicative of decay or other dental problems.
As baby teeth are lost, the process reverses itself with the central incisors being the first to fall out and be replaced by permanent or “adult” teeth. Most people have all of their adult teeth by the time they are 21.
On occasion, baby teeth will not fall out when they are supposed to and will need to be pulled. This is to prevent the underlying adult teeth from becoming impacted or crowded and misaligned. If this happens, the adult teeth will not grow in properly.
There is a common misconception by parents that you do not have to really take care of your kid’s baby teeth since they are all going to fall out anyway. Nothing could be further from the truth. Dental professionals know that your child’s baby teeth should never be neglected.
Just because baby teeth fall out, or because kids’ teeth tend to be healthier these days, thanks to fluoridated water, your child’s baby teeth should never be taken for granted. Tooth decay still plays a role in adult tooth loss, but the primary cause of tooth loss and other dental problems is gum disease.
Dentists agree that the best way to prevent gum disease and other problems is to master good basic daily dental care, especially the proper ways of brushing and flossing. These good habits should start early.
If you and your child treat his or her baby teeth like the gems they are, you will not only help to avoid many childhood dental problems, you will be setting your children up for a lifetime of good oral health!