What to Know About Your Child's Primary Teeth

What to Know About Your Child's Primary Teeth
Posted on 03/21/2019
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Early dental care is essential for long-term oral health, which is why you should take your child to the dentist at an early age. Not only will this familiarize them with the dentist and common dental procedures, but it will also ensure your child's permanent teeth develop as healthy as possible. Check out these facts you should know about your child's primary teeth.

The Teeth Are in the Jaw at Birth

Except in rare occurrences, babies aren't usually born with exposed teeth. However, that doesn't mean you shouldn't start preparing for eruption soon after your baby is born. This is because the teeth are already in the jawbone. They just haven't fully erupted yet. You can help prepare for your baby's teeth by keeping the gums clean from plaque.

If there is a lot of plaque on the gums, they can become irritated and inflamed. Not only does this cause your baby pain and discomfort, but it may also increase the risk of cavities as soon as the primary teeth erupt. All the teeth should be fully erupted by about the age of three.

Missing Teeth Can Affect Facial Development

If you neglect your child's oral hygiene, the result might be tooth decay. Plaque attracts bacteria, which eats away your child's tooth enamel, and since primary tooth enamel is already thin, cavities can easily develop. One or two cavities may not cause a problem, but if left untreated, they can quickly take over the entire little tooth, leading to tooth loss.

Tooth loss causes many issues for your child, including difficulties eating and speaking. More importantly, however, missing teeth can affect facial development. As an adult, missing teeth can cause your jawbone to shrink, but children’s faces are still being formed as they grow, so missing teeth can permanently affect their development.

The Dentist Can Use Primary Teeth to Spot Future Problems

Primary teeth can also be used to predict potential future problems. For example, if the primary teeth are crooked, there's a good chance the permanent teeth will grow in crooked too. If your dentist spots this early, they can help start treatment as soon as possible, and you know what to expect down the line when it comes to your child's dental treatments.

Ideally, you want to start taking your child to the dentist as soon as the first tooth appears or by their first birthday. During these visits, the dentist will clean/remove any plaque and tartar to reduce the risk of cavities, but they will also help teach you how to better care for your child's teeth at home.

Primary Teeth Are Placeholders

The reason the dentist can predict future complications is because primary teeth are placeholders. When your child's permanent teeth begin to grow, they'll follow the path created by the primary tooth. If the tooth is crooked, the new tooth will follow this crooked path. Similarly, if the primary tooth is missing, the permanent tooth has no clear path and may grow crooked or rotated.

This is also why you should keep your child's primary teeth healthy. If severe decay causes an infection at the root of the primary tooth, the infection can affect the permanent tooth as it develops. The infection may spread, causing the permanent tooth to die before it even emerges.

Care for your child's teeth to protect their smile for life. Ensure the health of your child’s primary teeth to promote healthy permanent teeth, reducing the risk of expensive complications later in life. For more information about primary teeth and how to best care for them, contact us at Treasured Smiles Pediatric Dentistry today.