The primary teeth are the initial teeth that erupt from a child’s gums in the first few years of childhood. There are a total of 20 primary teeth, most of which will have appeared no later than age three. Because they are only temporary, some parents believe they are less important than the permanent teeth that will emerge around age five or six. However, primary teeth hold a special significance and are important for a child’s long-term oral health.
Function and importance of baby teeth
Baby teeth have several basic functions. Decay can interfere with these functions, and potentially lead to life-long complications. For example, severe tooth decay that causes tooth loss during childhood, perhaps due to sleeping with a bottle at night, can obstruct a child’s speech development. It can also hinder his or her ability to sufficiently chew food.
The primary teeth also serve as place-holders for the permanent teeth. When a primary tooth falls out or must be removed before its time, surrounding teeth may shift into the space the tooth once held. This can cause orthodontic complications once the permanent teeth begin to erupt, which can lead to serious tooth alignment problems and call for extensive orthodontic treatment.
Caring for baby teeth
Drs. Mark Morrow, April Lai, and Kerry Edwards and our team at Morrow, Lai & Edwards Pediatric Dentistry will tell you it is never too early to begin caring for your child’s teeth. Baby teeth require the same care and attention that permanent teeth do. The American Dental Association recommends that children see a dentist as soon as the teeth begin to erupt from the gums. Early childhood dental visits usually include examinations, cleanings, fluoride treatments, and hygiene education for parents. It is also important to adopt an oral care routine at home that includes daily brushing, flossing, and dietary modifications that support a lifetime of good oral health.
To learn more about baby teeh, or to schedule an appointment with Drs. Mark Morrow, April Lai, and Kerry Edwards for your little one, please give us a call at our convenient Tulsa, OK office!