Many times I see parents who are worried about the condition of their children’s baby teeth. These teeth may be decayed and the parents want me to just remove the teeth rather than restore them. However, baby teeth are there for a reason…
Baby teeth help children chew food more easily and properly. They also help children speak more clearly and quickly. Baby teeth hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums and above all, they ensure a lifetime of healthy smiles. This is why I usually recommend that when possible, we restore, not extract baby teeth. Also, it is important to take proper care of your children’s baby teeth. How so? Well, I thought I would discuss that in this article
- Begin cleaning your baby’s mouth during the first few days after birth: Within a few days after birth, clean your baby’s mouth with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth. This is important, because as soon as teeth appear, decay can also appear. A baby’s front four teeth usually push through the gums at about 6 months or age, though this varies from child to child.
- Take your child to visit the dentist early: The American Dental Association (ADA) advises that parents take their children to visit the dentist preferably within 6 months of the arrival of the first tooth and no later than their first birthday. Dentists, such as myself, will conduct a “well-baby check-up” and will check for any signs of tooth decay or other problems. Your dentist will also explain the proper way of brushing your child’s teeth.
- Ensure your child’s good oral health: Since baby teeth ultimately fall out, most parents believe that they don’t matter. However, it is extremely important to have good oral health in the child’s early years, because it is vital to the child’s overall well-being, among other things. Healthy primary teeth are important for the child’s physical, emotional and social development.
- Do not pull baby teeth as they hold spaces for permanent teeth: Typically, under the healthiest of circumstance, baby teeth remain in the mouth until that particular permanent tooth is ready to erupt through the gums. If your child loses a baby tooth too early, it may result in major spatial problems for permanent teeth, unless specific action is taken.
- Insert space maintainers if your child loses his or her baby teeth early: If a child loses his or her baby teeth too early, your dentist (I always do) may insert space maintainers to fill the place of the primary tooth until the permanent tooth becomes ready to erupt. These space maintainers could be removable or fixed. Baby teeth are very important to the development of the jawbones and muscles. If no intervention occurs between the baby teeth falling out too early, and the permanent teeth erupting, it may lead to multiple problems.
So, now you know a little bit more about why baby teeth are so important and how, you as a parent, can take care of them. Do consult your dentist regularly from the time that your child is an infant to prevent any problems later on, especially when it comes to your child’s baby teeth. Here’s to great childhood dental hygiene and the care of your child’s baby teeth…always!
For more information on how you can care for your child’s baby teeth, or for a dental appointment, contact Dr. Ron Lo at 253-383-1551