Baby Teeth Are Important, Too! Your Family and Pediatric Dentist in Portland, Oregon Explains Why
Updated: Mar 2, 2022
“Baby teeth fall out anyway, so they’re not important.” ─ We hear this often, yet it couldn’t be further from the truth! Baby teeth, or primary teeth, serve as placeholders for adult teeth and play a very important role in a child’s physical, emotional and social development.
Baby teeth aid a growing child in their:
Health and Nutrition ─ Chewing requires teeth! - and also fosters good nutrition and aids digestion. If a child has dental pain due to cavities and is unable to properly chew their food, it can lead to nutritional deficiencies. Cavities can also spread much quicker in baby teeth, since they are much smaller and have thinner enamel than adult teeth. If untreated, cavities in baby teeth can develop into infection or abscess which could hinder development of or even damage their emerging adult teeth.
Speech Development ─ As adorable as it is when a toddler cannot pronounce words correctly, no parent wants speech issues to last into their child’s preteen years or beyond. Baby teeth and their positioning are important for children learning to form correct speech sounds and pronunciations.
Facial Development ─ Tooth structure provides support for a child’s developing facial muscles and features, and gives shape to their face.
Concentration and ability to learn ─ Concentration is typically not a young child’s strong suit, and dental pain is a huge distraction when it comes to their ability to focus, learn, and complete schoolwork. In addition, unplanned dental visits account for an estimated 51 million hours of lost school hours every single year.
Self Esteem ─ Relationships are critical to a child’s development, and decayed teeth can interfere with their social interactions and development, confidence, and self-esteem.
Adult Teeth Alignment and Position ─ Baby teeth are literal placeholders for our adult teeth; they save space for adult teeth and guide them into the proper place in the mouth. When a baby tooth is lost too early (usually due to tooth decay), the surrounding teeth shift into the gap, resulting in positioning and alignment problems for the permanent adult teeth.
Baby teeth do eventually fall out, but they are very important to a growing child’s physical, social and emotional health and development. To get started on the right track for your child’s lifelong oral health, bring your child in for their first dentist appointment by their first birthday or their first tooth, whichever comes first!
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