While baby teeth are only in the mouth for a short period of time, they play the following vital role:
Role of baby teeth:
- Form the shape of your child’s face
- Make it easier for your child to talk more clearly
- Reserve space for their permanent teeth.
- Make chewing and eating easier. (missing or decayed teeth make it difficult to chew, causing children to reject foods)
- Help give a healthy start to the permanent teeth (decay and infection in baby teeth can cause damage to the permanent teeth developing beneath them)
If left untreated, decayed teeth can cause pain and make it difficult to chew and eat. Also, baby teeth serve as “space savers” for adult teeth. If baby teeth are damaged or destroyed, they can’t help guide permanent teeth into their proper position, possibly resulting in crowded or crooked permanent teeth. Badly decayed baby teeth could lead to an abscessed tooth, with the possibility of infection spreading elsewhere in the body.
When should your child start seeing a dentist?
Ideally, your child should go the dentist by her first birthday, putting it off any longer than 2 or 3 increases your child’s risk for having to deal with plaque buildup or cavities at her first visit (and who wants to set that kind of precedent?). Although some parents assume that because baby teeth will eventually fall out there’s little point in caring for them, this is a huge mistake. Even though you can’t see them, your child’s permanent teeth are developing under her primary ones and it’s important to have a dentist check to see that everything in your child’s mouth is developing normally.