Despite their eventual fallout, baby teeth play an essential role in everyday life of children. They serve a vital role in the overall development of the oral cavity and the permanent teeth.
Why Are Baby Teeth Important?
Baby teeth are necessary as they aid in the chewing and biting of food of growing children, making digestion easier for them. These functions are pivotal in the healthy development of the normal jaw function with each tooth functioning in certain ways.
For instance, the incisors help cut food and aid with taking small bites. The canines crush and tear food. Lastly, the molars are great for chewing, grinding, and breaking food particles.
Additionally, baby teeth aid in the speech of children. They, along with the tongue, mouth, and lips, help kids form words by controlling the air flow out of the mouth. Moreover, certain sounds are created when their tongue moves and strikes the teeth in various ways.
More importantly, baby teeth are an essential foundation for adult teeth. When baby teeth develop and fall out the right way, they create space and guide the permanent teeth for their emergence.
If baby teeth were lost sooner than expected, there is a tendency that the teeth beside it will move and shift to fill the gap left by the tooth. When such happens, the permanent tooth will have a difficult time coming out due to the lack of space. Thus, this may cause a crooked or crowded set of teeth.
Smiling is natural. In fact, 3D ultrasound images of developing babies suggest that even before people come out of their mother’s womb, they already know how to smile. This facial expression carries on in their sleep when they are born.
Also, children are known to smile as much as 400 times a day, making baby teeth important in building their self-esteem. A complete and healthy set of teeth makes children more akin to smiling and socializing with their peers.
Overall Health and Development
Keeping baby teeth healthy saves children from suffering from tooth pain and discomfort due to tooth decay and cavities.
But without a healthy set of baby teeth, infection may develop on the gums and surrounding teeth. As a result, this infection may eventually spread to other parts of the body, causing disease and weakening the immune system.
How Do Baby Teeth Appear?
Baby teeth come out usually between six months to one year following the birth of the baby. However, there may be variance in age as to when the primary teeth will start to emerge and the number of teeth that will come out at a given time.
Often, the first baby teeth to emerge are the two front bottom teeth. Then, the two front upper teeth appear. Baby teeth will usually come out two at a time. By age three, a set of 20 baby teeth should be present.
Baby teeth may have spaces between them which is perfectly normal. These spaces help make room for the emergence of the permanent teeth in the future.
How To Care For Baby Teeth
Caring for baby teeth starts even before the first tooth emerges. Parents are advised to wipe the gums of their kids using a clean and damp washcloth or gauze. Here’s how to clean the gums using a washcloth or gauze:
Wrap your index finger with the washcloth or gauze.
Gently rub the baby’s gums using the wrapped index finger.
When the baby teeth come out, parents can start using a soft toothbrush to clean them. The toothbrush must have soft, nylon bristles. If the bristles are not soft enough, soak them in warm water for a few minutes. It is recommended to use a toothbrush that is designed for children as it has a smaller head and better grip.
By age two, parents can use fluoridated toothpaste to supplement the cleaning of the teeth. However, be careful on the amount of fluoride that goes with the brushing. Children are only advised to use a fluoridated toothpaste with fluoride lower than 1,000 parts per million in a small amount such as the size of the baby’s pinky fingernail. Here’s how to brush a baby’s teeth:
With gentle strokes, clean the inside and outside of your child’s teeth.
Clean his or her tongue as well to clear the mouth from bacteria.
It will be better to assist children in brushing their teeth to ensure that all parts of the mouth are cleaned. Additionally, replace their toothbrush regularly, especially when the bristles start to shred or be worn out.
Aside from regular brushing, it is also important to bring kids to the dentist for a routine checkup. As early as six months, kids can already be brought to the dental clinic for their initial checkup. From then, the dentist can advise on the intervals of dental visits and ways to keep the baby teeth healthy such as the use of dental sealants.
It is imperative to have your child’s teeth check as early as possible to prevent problems in the development of the permanent teeth.
Other than the proper care, keeping children healthy through good nutrition is a must to strengthen their immune system to be able to fight off harmful bacteria and viruses. Sugary treats must be kept out of their diet as these can cause cavities in baby teeth. Additionally, pacifier use must be minimized as it can affect the alignment of the teeth.