Baby teeth will come and go, so they don’t matter much in the long run – right? Wrong. In fact, these temporary teeth may have lasting effects for the duration of the permanent teeth to follow. Scarred, crooked, and deformed adult teeth are just some examples of what neglected baby teeth may lead to.
Baby teeth, which usually begin peeking in when your child is between six months to one year old, are like space markers for adult teeth. When they fall out prematurely, it may result in crowded or crooked adult teeth, especially towards the back of the mouth.
“Baby teeth set the stage for adult teeth,” says Alameda Pediatric Dentistry’s Dr. Sharine Thenard, who was recently installed in the exclusive American College of Dentists. “They provide the correct pathway for the adult teeth to come into the gums.”
That’s why Alameda and Pleasanton Pediatric Dentistry are dedicated to fighting baby bottle tooth decay. According to Dr. Thenard, baby teeth have much thinner enamel than adult teeth, so even the hint of a cavity can quickly progress into a large cavity that can lead to pain, infection, abscess, and swelling in the area. This can spread to the rest of the body.
“Neglecting baby teeth can result in chronic infection at the tip of the root of the baby tooth, which can lead to permanent deformation or scarring of the permanent tooth under that baby tooth.”
So, when baby’s done with his milk, remove the bottle from his mouth prior to naptime and bedtime and clean those tiny teeth thoroughly with a water-soaked cloth after each feeding to remove food and stimulate gum tissue. When baby is a little older, simply brush his teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and water.
Baby teeth will continue to grow in until your child is about 3 years old, then loosen to make room for adult teeth at around age 6. While many of us consider them most when they’re wiggling or ready for the tooth fairy, baby teeth have an important role well before that time comes. In addition to setting the stage for adult teeth, baby teeth help children eat and maintain good nutrition, develop clear pronunciation and speech habits, and feel good about themselves!