Parents often say ‘It doesn’t matter; it’s just a baby tooth.’ While there is some truth in this statement, you might be surprised to find out exactly why it’s important to keep your child’s first teeth healthy. Baby teeth have several jobs, here are just four of them:
1. Speech development
Have you heard a child with missing teeth speak? If so, you’ll know that the absence of their ‘pearly whites’ affects how they sound. Baby teeth are important for the production of certain sounds – and they enable a child to develop good speech patterns.
2. Good nutrition
A bad tooth may mean significant pain and ill health for a child. Children grow at a rapid rate and need good nutrition to grow big and strong. The digestion of many foods starts in the mouth. If a child is suffering from loose teeth, cavities or sore gums, they could find it difficult to chew food properly — and may even start to avoid certain healthy foods that are harder to chew.
3. Development of adult teeth
Baby teeth hold space to allow the adult teeth to emerge. If a baby tooth is extracted too soon, the emerging adult tooth can have difficulty coming through later on.
As adults, a great smile gives us confidence. Studies have found that our smiles can also affect how successful we are in our professional and personal lives. A great smile is important even at preschool age; missing teeth can hinder a child’s social development and confidence even at this early stage.
Tips for maintaining healthy baby teeth
It’s important for children to develop sound life-long habits with regular visits to a dentist, good oral hygiene at home and a healthy diet. Here are some things parents can do to protect a child’s baby teeth.
- Drink water or milk — avoid soft drinks and only allow fruit juice occasionally.
- Take care with lollies — try and restrict sugar to being a meal time treat.
- Limit snacks — continually grazing on food is not ideal for the health of baby teeth.
- Be careful with medicine — medicines can cause decay because they are often sweetened to mask an unpleasant taste. Extra brushing and flossing may be necessary if children are using medication regularly.
- Stay alert. Parents should keep an eye on the development of their child’s bite (noting over-, under-bites and cross-bites) and stay alert to teeth that may be having trouble coming through. Early intervention can often help – and may well save you time and money later on.
Prevention is so much better than cure
We see a real mix of patients here at Parnell Dentistry and aim to be as preventative as possible. However some young children come to see us with the beginnings of decay and this can be a real shock for the parents.
We like to take the time to give our patients advice on good diet, brushing and flossing — as well as the use of products such as fluorides and tooth mousse.
We’re passionate about looking after children’s teeth and believe that they are never too young to start learning about oral health – so education is a key part of every appointment. We prefer to work with children and their families in the prevention mode of care to avoid fillings and extractions for young children wherever possible.
Take a look at our special Kids Club to find out how we can help you care for your child’s teeth, and if you have any concerns or questions, just call us on (number). We’re here to help.