As a Tarrytown dentist for kids, a question Dr. Reshma Kumar sometimes gets is: Do baby teeth matter? We understand that it can seem like they’re not a huge priority since they’re going to fall out anyway. However, they exist for a number of reasons and play some important roles, aside from just looking adorable. We’re sharing the key functions of primary teeth that highlight why it’s important to give them the TLC they deserve.
1) Primary Teeth Save Space for the Permanent Teeth – Whenever you’re asking are baby teeth important, this is one of the key points to keep in mind. The major functions of primary teeth are saving space for the permanent teeth to come in correctly and helping guide facial and jaw development. The permanent teeth form below the gumline and wait in the wings for their time to show up to your child’s smile party. Ideally, when the permanent teeth are ready to make their debut, there will be plenty of room for them.
If a primary tooth is lost too early, whether due to injury or decay, the teeth surrounding the gap it left behind have a tendency to shift to fill in the space. Then, the permanent tooth doesn’t have enough room to come in straight. In some cases, it can become impacted below the gumline. Or, other times, it will come in crooked, resulting in orthodontic issues like misalignment and crowding. This can lead to the need for extensive orthodontic treatment down the road. To avoid this, it’s best to keep the teeth healthy and protected. In cases where a tooth can’t be saved, a space maintainer can prevent the shifting of the other teeth.
2) Primary Teeth Help Your Child Chew – When kids can chew correctly, it helps promote proper nutrition and overall health. When a little one has a missing baby tooth or they have decay or pain, they’ll likely only eat what’s easiest to chew, which limits their diet and creates a greater likelihood they’ll be missing out on essential vitamins and minerals.
3) Baby Teeth are Important for Speech – Speech development is a big part of a child’s social and cognitive development and the teeth play a part in speaking clearly and articulating certain sounds, particularly consonants. The teeth direct the flow of air to make some sounds and the tongue touches the top of the teeth to produce other sounds. Additionally, having the teeth in their correct places ensures the tongue has enough room. While, yes, when a kiddo loses their front teeth they often have a lisp or make a whistling noise, they’ve already developed the fundamentals of speech so it will revert back to normal when their permanent teeth erupt. It’s harder to fix the problem if the child didn’t have the opportunity to learn how to correctly form a sound in the first place.
4) A Healthy Smile Gives Your Child Confidence – When a child has a healthy smile, it gives them confidence and boosts their self-esteem. Decayed, damaged or missing baby teeth can make kids feel self-conscious and may lead to teasing. Additionally, cavities hurt and kids with poor oral health tend to miss more school and have lower grades, which can negatively impact self-esteem.
5) Healthy Teeth and Gums Promotes Long-Term Oral Health – While it isn’t technically one of the functions of primary teeth, keeping baby teeth healthy does promote long-term oral health since tooth decay can cause childhood gum disease. If not treated, gum disease can eventually lead to the deterioration of the bones and tissue that support the teeth. This can ultimately result in tooth loss.
Now that you know the importance of baby teeth, it’s a great idea to make caring for your little one’s smile a top priority. Brush their teeth twice a day, floss once daily and visit a pediatric dentist for regular exams and cleanings. Looking for a pediatric dentist in Tarrytown? Schedule an appointment at 914 Smiles with Dr. Reshma Kumar today! We are open again and taking every precaution possible to keep our young patients and their families safe. You can see what’s changed due to the coronavirus here. To book a visit, call us at (914) 332-0900.