- Baby teeth maintain the bite for adult teeth.
Our adult set of teeth is meant to last a lifetime. When we are young and growing, our jaws can’t yet hold adult teeth in place, so we have a small set of teeth that allows us to chew until our jaws are large enough to hold adult teeth. This means these “baby” teeth play a few critical roles in setting up the mouth for our adult teeth. First and foremost, they support the jaws and the bite. When we lose a baby tooth prematurely, the bite begins to collapse around that new space. This causes crowding, which makes it difficult for the adult teeth to emerge properly. When the baby teeth stay healthy and maintain position, adult teeth can develop in a relatively good position and can form a well-functioning bite. Keeping baby teeth until the appropriate time is very important!
2.Baby teeth protect the developing adult teeth.
Underneath all 20 of the baby teeth, 20 adult teeth are developing. These developing teeth are protected by the baby teeth above them. Although, if problems develop with the baby teeth, such as infection or trauma, they can have an impact on the developing teeth below. Many times, parents are shocked to learn that a cavity on a baby tooth, if severe enough, can potentially impact the adult tooth underneath. An important key to avoiding cavities (tooth infection) on baby teeth is to floss! There are great floss aids out there and we love Gum Chucks because of all the fun that they provide. They can help kids become excited about flossing.
3.Kids should see the dentist around 1-2 years old.
The reason for this is to familiarize the child with a dentist’s office so they will be comfortable and look forward to future dental checkups. Many times, a child’s first visit to the dentist is because of tooth pain. This makes for a difficult first visit and a potential lifetime of phobia at the dentist. At our office, we love to see children and do what we call “Happy Visits.” We have them sit in the chair with mom or dad, then simply count their teeth together. As we do this for a few visits, by the time they are 3-4, they are ready to have their teeth cleaned. These early positive experiences help encourage them to continue visiting the dentist throughout their lives.
4.Have you passed on gum disease to your kids?
Gum disease is a transmissible infectious disease. It is passed through the saliva (usually from Mom and Dad early in childhood) and gets trapped in biofilm. Biofilm is a compound of proteins, plaque, bacteria and other microparticles that stick to every surface in our mouth. When disease-causing bacteria are present, our gums can become inflamed. It is simple for us to test for gum disease, and there are many treatment options available.