Five Things Parents Should Know about Baby Teeth

If you have young children, this article is for you.  Too often, we hear myths and misconceptions from parents about baby teeth.  In this week’s blog, we will highlight some of the most important things you, as a parent, should know about your child’s baby teeth!

1. Baby Teeth are Essential to Nutrition.

Your baby’s growing body needs specific nutrients.  Teeth are essential to the nutrition of your child because many of these nutrients are only obtained through chewing food.  Your child must transition from formula or breast milk to soft foods to a full diet in order to grow properly.

When children are missing baby teeth or suffer from extensive tooth decay in their baby teeth, they may cmpensate by not eating certain foods or not chewing their foods properly.  This can result in malnutrition or deficiencies of particular vitamins and minerals.

As a parent, you should help you child pursue and maintain great dental health, so that productive chewing is a given.

2. Baby Teeth are Essential to Speech.

In addition to growing during his or her earliest years, your child is also learning to speak.  The eruption of teeth into the mouth is an essential part of this process.  When teeth are missing or in the wrong position, speech impediments may develop.  Having the right teeth in the right place is necessary to your child’s learning to make various consonant sounds correctly.

When people assume that baby teeth are inconsequential, and they want to wait for the permanent teeth to erupt before addressing any speech issues, they can place the child at risk for permanent speech defects. 

Maintenance of healthy baby teeth through good oral hygiene and a balanced diet helps your child’s speech patterns develop properly.

3. Baby Teeth are Essential to the Development of Permanent Teeth.

Your child’s permanent “adult” teeth are developing just underneath the baby teeth’s roots.  This means that problems with the baby teeth (i.e. infections, trauma) can affect the underlying permanent tooth.  While we cannot protect against every possible injury to the baby teeth, we can prevent the great majority of dental infections.

Help your child practice great oral hygiene with nightly brushing and flossing.  (Yes, baby teeth do need flossing.)  Your child should not be performing his own oral hygiene until he can tie his shoelaces and write his name legibly.  You should also follow your dentist’s and dental hygienist’s recommendations for preventive treatments that can stop dental disease before it starts. 

4. Baby Teeth can Develop Dangerous Infections.

No parents want their children to get sick and suffer from an infection of any kind.  Many people forget that cavities can lead to dangerous infections in the mouth, and these infections can spread to other areas of the body.

In rare cases, children have died from dental infections.  Many parents are surprised to see large cavities in their children’s teeth because the children have not complained of any pain.  We cannot rely on pain as an indicator of a dangerous situation. 

Parents, make sure that you are helping your child with oral hygiene routines, looking around the child’s mouth periodically for signs of change, and taking your child to the dentist for exams, cleanings and x-rays.

5. The Enamel on Baby Teeth is Very Thin.

One reason that cavities seem to appear out of nowhere on children’s teeth is due to the amount of enamel covering baby teeth.  Unlike permanent teeth, which are meant to last for many decades, baby teeth have only a very thin covering of enamel. 

Because the enamel is so thin on baby teeth, cavities that develop on baby teeth can grow very quickly.  Without consistent dental check-ups with x-rays, you are unlikely to be aware of any cavities in your child’s mouth until they are quite large and require extensive treatment to repair.  Don’t wait until you see something on a baby tooth to go to the dentist. 

The thinness of enamel means that you can only intercept problems early through consistent dental visits.

More Questions about Baby Teeth?

Call Prosper Family Dentistry at 972-347-1145 today to schedule a consultation with Dr. Jill, Dr. Cara, and Dr. Summer.  They can answer any question you have about your child’s teeth and help you get started with great home care and consistent dental visits.

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