As parents, we all want our children to have healthy and happy smiles. However, premature tooth loss can significantly impact a child’s oral health and overall well-being. Just because they’re “baby teeth” that will eventually be replaced with permanent ones doesn’t make those primary teeth any less important. In fact, it makes them even more valuable than most people realize!
Dr. Huynh at Eastport Dental in Mesa, AZ, understands the importance of baby teeth and the role they play in a child’s dental development. Continue reading to find out why premature tooth loss hurts kids’ smiles and what parents can do to help prevent it.
The Importance of Baby Teeth
Baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, are essential for a child’s oral development. Children have 20 of them, and they begin erupting as early as six months of age up until your toddler is around two years old.
Primary teeth help children chew and speak properly, and they also serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth that will eventually replace them. Baby teeth also play a crucial role in the development of a child’s jawbone and facial structure. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, it can have a significant impact on a child’s oral health by jeopardizing tooth placement and jaw development.
How Losing a Baby Tooth Affects the Neighboring Teeth
When a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the neighboring teeth will often shift into the empty space. This can lead to misalignment and overcrowding throughout their smile. It can also alter the shape of their jaw, which may lead to orthodontic complications a few years down the road. If left untreated, misaligned teeth can also cause issues, such as difficulty chewing, speaking, and cleaning around the teeth in that space.
How Losing a Baby Tooth Affects the Permanent Tooth Underneath
Baby teeth serve as placeholders and guides for the permanent teeth that will eventually grow in their place. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the permanent tooth underneath may not grow in correctly or at all. In fact, it may become impacted or partially impacted, due to the lack of space above it (from the other teeth tilting inward.) This scenario can lead to a range of issues, most notably orthodontic concerns, and issues with aesthetics, which can also affect a child’s self-esteem.
What to do if Your Child Loses a Baby Tooth Prematurely
If your child loses a baby tooth prematurely, it’s essential to seek dental attention as soon as possible. Dr. Huynh can evaluate your child’s dental health and recommend appropriate treatment options. Depending on the severity of the issue, treatment options may include a space maintainer. These temporary “band and loop” type appliances hold the open space there to leave room for the developing permanent tooth. Once the permanent tooth begins to erupt, the space maintainer is removed.
How to Keep Baby Teeth Healthy
Preventing premature tooth loss starts with good oral hygiene habits. Here are some tips for keeping your child’s baby teeth healthy:
- Brush twice a day: Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day for two minutes at a time with fluoride toothpaste. If they can’t tie their own shoes yet, be sure to help them with their brushing.
- Floss daily: Flossing helps remove plaque and food particles from between the teeth. Always floss the teeth that touch.
- Limit sugary foods and drinks: Sugary foods and drinks can increase the risk of tooth decay. Juice and sports drinks are top offenders.
- Schedule regular dental check-ups: Regular dental check-ups can help catch potential issues early on.
- Consider dental sealants: Dental sealants are a protective coating that can help prevent cavities on the chewing surfaces of back teeth.
Kids’ Dental Exams in Mesa
At Eastport Dental in Mesa, AZ, we offer comprehensive dental exams for kids of all ages to help keep their smiles healthy and happy. Our team understands the unique needs of children and strives to create a comfortable and welcoming environment for them. During a dental exam, Dr. Huynh will evaluate your child’s oral health and provide personalized recommendations for maintaining healthy teeth and gums.
In addition to regular dental exams, we offer a range of dental services for children, including dental cleanings, fillings, and orthodontic treatment. Our goal is to provide quality dental care that meets the unique needs of each child and helps them maintain healthy teeth and gums for life.
Contact Eastport Dental in Mesa, AZ, and plan to schedule a dental exam for your child every six months.