Importance of Baby Teeth – Are a baby’s first teeth really important since they’re just going to fall out anyway?
Primary teeth, commonly called baby teeth, begin to develop in the fetus at about six weeks of age. A few months after birth – six months to be exact – baby teeth start to erupt one by one. The first tooth to erupt is usually the middle front tooth found in the lower jaw known as the central incisor. Most of the baby teeth will have fully erupted by 33 months or 3 years.
When a child reaches 3 years old, it is very critical to save as much decayed baby teeth as possible. As a matter of fact, preventive measures should be done already as early as when the first baby tooth erupted.
You, parents, might be asking – “Why do I need to take care of baby teeth, knowing that a new set of teeth will replace it after a few years?” Parents often don’t know the importance of baby teeth and their effect on the eruption of permanent teeth.
So, why are baby teeth important?
- Baby teeth act as a space maintainer or placeholder for the permanent teeth. It holds the spot where a larger permanent tooth will erupt. When a baby tooth is lost earlier than it should be, the adjacent tooth or the other permanent tooth can drift – thus, making it difficult for other permanent teeth to find room when it’s their turn to erupt. This can cause crooked teeth, misalignment, or malocclusion.
- Baby teeth guide the eruption pathway of permanent teeth. Certain baby teeth guide the permanent teeth on where they should erupt (i.e. more forward or more backward).
- Baby teeth aid in the speech development of toddlers. A good example of this is when the upper front teeth touch the lower lip to be able to pronounce an “f” sound. Absence of baby teeth may limit the vowels and consonants a child can pronounce.
- Baby teeth help children chew food easily and properly.
Given these points, parents should be giving their kids’ baby teeth thorough care. Keep in mind that baby teeth are very important to a child’s physical, social, and emotional development.
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