Why bother taking care of them? After all…they are just baby teeth.
As a pediatric dentist, I get this question all the time. Here is my answer, and why parents should take good care of the primary teeth.
- To hold SPACE for the adult teeth – Primary teeth are place-holders and guides for permanent teeth. Without them, the adult teeth do not have a proper path to erupt into proper smile and bite. If the baby teeth become decayed, they get narrower and get pushed closer together. The adult teeth then have less space to grown into. If a child loses a baby tooth altogether much space will be lost, space that is needed by the adult tooth.
- Proper SPEECH DEVELOPMENT – Without the front teeth, young children have difficulty articulating sounds properly. This leads to speech delay and lisps which can affect how a child learns and interacts with others.
- Proper NUTRITION – You need strong healthy teeth to eat healthy foods. If children do not have strong teeth to chew with, they will be more likely to eat soft and processed foods, not healthy natural foods like raw veggies, fruits, and grains.
- To develop SELF-CONFIDENCE – Once children start kindergarten, they notice how their peers look and behave, and their peers notice them. A healthy smile projects confidence, whereas a smile with obvious cavities or missing teeth can make a child self concious. Children can be more shy and withdrawn because they become self conscious of their appearance.
- To LEARN and GROW – A toothache is a terrible thing to have. Tooth pain is a frequent cause of school absenteism, sleeplessness, and lack of concentration. Children need to be rested and pain free to be ready for school and learning.
- To PRACTICE good health habits – It’s hard to teach an old dog a new trick. But kids are impressionable and eager to learn. If they learn right from the start that it is important take care of their mouth and teeth, and thereby to take care of themselves, they are more likely to keep those habits into adulthood. The opposite is also true.
Start with proper oral care and brushing when the first baby tooth erupts. Baby teeth are more important than you know.