The Importance of Baby Teeth

The Importance of Baby Teeth

Though primary (baby) teeth are temporary, they shouldn’t be neglected. In reality, they play some very important roles and are just as significant as permanent teeth.

Primary teeth serve several purposes, including:

  1. Maintain Spacing and Tooth Alignment

Baby teeth reserve a space for permanent teeth.  If a primary tooth is lost prematurely, the neighboring teeth have the tendency to drift into the open space.  This becomes a problem when it’s time for the permanent tooth to come in, because there won’t be enough room for it to erupt through the gum tissue

  1. Facial and Speech Development

Primary teeth provide support and are responsible for the development of your child’s facial structure and anatomical features.

Our oral anatomy plays a big role in allowing us to speak clearly and pronounce sounds correctly. Since small children are learning to talk, having all of their teeth will help to prevent a speech impairment.

  1. Proper Digestion

Throughout the mouth our teeth are shaped differently, giving them specific roles.  For example, the front teeth are used to bite into food.  The canines are used to tear off pieces of tougher foods, while your back molars do all the chewing and breaking down.

baby-teeth-orange-countyMissing even one tooth can significantly impact the biting and chewing ability of your child’s mouth.  Choking hazards can become a problem and digestion issues may occur due to not being able to breakdown the food properly before swallowing. If they start to chew on one side more than the other, it can lead to tooth wear or TMJ disorder.

Understanding Your Child’s Oral Development

Throughout the years, your child will develop and lose teeth.  Here is a guide to help you understand what phase your child is in:

  • At around four months of age, your baby will start to cut in their primary teeth.
  • Once they turn three, they will likely have all twenty of their baby teeth in.
  • The six-year molars are the first set of new permanent teeth that your child will develop. They’re in addition to the twenty primary teeth and don’t replace any of them. Six-year molars appear in the back of the mouth. There will be one in each quadrant, for a total of four. Six-year molars are also known as first molars.
  • Between the age of six and 13, your child will be losing baby teeth throughout their mouth. When one is lost you should see a new, permanent one coming in a few weeks later.
  • Around the age of 12, your child will cut in their 12-year molars, which are also new teeth that don’t replace baby teeth. These will show up behind the six-year molars and are also known as second molars.
  • Once your child is around the age of 13, they should have 28 permanent teeth and no primary teeth left.
  • If your child has their third molars (wisdom teeth) they may begin coming through around the age of 17. Some people will never form wisdom teeth. This is okay, because wisdom teeth don’t play a vital function in the mouth and quite often get extracted.

Why Is It So Important for Your Child to Visit The Dentist Regularly?

baby-teeth-orange-countyPracticing good oral hygiene is the best way to ensure that your child’s primary teeth stay healthy and in place as long as they need to. You can get your child ready at home by showing and teaching them excellent oral hygiene skills like brushing, flossing and using an anticavity mouthwash.

In addition to your home routine, you should seek the help of your dentist and hygienist.  Coming in regularly for cleanings will remove the plaque and tartar buildup that was left behind in those hard to reach areas of your child’s mouth.  A periodic check-up will allow our Newport Beach dentist to ensure that everything is healthy. If we do in fact find something that requires intervention, stepping in early can make a huge difference in the final result.

Once your child is starting to get baby teeth, you should bring them in for their first dental visit. Doing so at an early age will help us establish a good relationship with your child and form a great first impression.  It will also set them up for a lifelong commitment to the health of their mouth.

If we find a cavity during one of your child’s checkups, we can take an x-ray to help us determine how to treat the condition. If the radiograph shows that the permanent tooth is nearly ready to come through, your child may be able to avoid dental treatment.

If we see that there are some problems with the development of your child’s mouth, we can intervene and possibly do a short phase of orthodontics to get things corrected and moving along better.

Children’s Dentist in Newport Beach

At the Center for Restorative & Cosmetic Dentistry in Newport Beach, we care for the whole family. If you and your child are looking for a dentist that can handle all of your needs in one location, give us a call.  We look forward to meeting you!

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