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Why Are Primary Teeth Important?

Primary teeth also referred to as “deciduous teeth” or “baby teeth,” starts developing under the gum during the second trimester of pregnancy. Teeth start erupting above the gum around six months to a year after birth. Preschool children typically develop a complete set 20 primary (baby) teeth – this includes four molars sitting on each arch.

One of the biggest myths about baby teeth is that they have no bearing on the future oral health of the child.  However, the American Dental Association (ADA) has stressed their importance, which encourages parents to book a “baby checkup” with a pediatric dentist within 6 months of the emergence of the first tooth.

What are the functions of primary teeth?

Acquiring primary teeth can come with some pain. Clean fingers, wet gauze pads, and biting on chewing rings can help soothe tender gums. Though most children who have attained the age of three possess a complete set of baby teeth, an eruption is usually gradual – often beginning from the front of the mouth.

Here are some of the main functions of primary teeth:

Speech production and development – the ability to speak properly is crucial for emotional, social and cognitive development. The correct placement of primary teeth helps the child pronounce syllables correctly.

Eating and nutrition – children whose primary teeth have decayed or are malfunctioning are more likely to be underweight, experience malnourishment and deficiencies. Good chewing motions are learned with time and practice. Healthy baby teeth facilitate nutritious eating and good chewing habits.

Self-confidence – crooked smiles and ugly teeth are easily noticed even by children. Caring for primary teeth lowers the risk of bad breath and makes it easier to socialize properly.

Straighter smiles – another important function of primary teeth is to maintain the right amount of spaces the eruption of adult teeth. Also, these spaces promote jaw development and enhance correct alignment of adult teeth. If missing primary teeth are left untreated, it allows the remaining teeth to “shift,” filling the wrong spaces. In this situation, space-maintaining devices are often recommended by the pediatric dentists.

Excellent oral health – severely decayed baby teeth can trigger the start of childhood periodontal disease. This condition is characterized by bacteria invading the ligaments, gums, and bone. If not treated, there can be a massive loss of primary teeth – resulting in spacing and health problems for erupting permanent teeth. To prevent periodontal disease, it is recommended that children adopt a daily adult-guided oral care routine, and a clean, damp cloth should be used to clean the gums of infants after meals.

For concerns or question about primary teeth, please get in touch with your pediatric dentist.

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