Baby teeth, also called primary teeth, are often taken for granted because in a few years, they will be replaced with permanent teeth. But baby teeth serve special purposes and must be taken care of because they are not only essential for your baby’s physical looks but perform many functions.
Aside from basic purpose of aiding in biting and chewing, baby teeth are also important because:
- They aid in providing nutrition to your baby
- They help in speech development
- They assist in the development of facial muscles and jaw bones
- They enhance physical appearance
- They save space and prepare the jaw bones for permanent teeth
Essential food will not be properly digested by the body when it is not processed by the teeth through chewing. Digestion starts in the mouth where food is broken down into small pieces so it can get processed in the body properly. Chewing also produces saliva which begins the chemical breakdown of nutrition and naturally cleanses the mouth and teeth protecting it from various infections when combined with proper care.
In helping your baby pronounce words and speak clearly, well-aligned teeth can make a huge difference. Notice how your child pronounces words when he/she is already losing baby teeth? That is how the lack of teeth can affect speech, hence the importance of keeping primary teeth healthy.
Facial and jaw muscles, just like in other parts of the body, need exercise for proper development. Since your child is at that age when facial and jaw muscles are still rapidly developing, properly aligned baby teeth are a very important aspect of this development. Chewing food exercises the said muscles too.
Good set of primary teeth is also important in enhancing appearance. Teach your child proper oral hygiene to maintain a great smile at any age. Primary teeth usually last for ten years. Cavities in them can cause children pain, swelling, infections and even hospitalizations. Extracting them can cause loss of space and orthodontic problems as well as difficulties in chewing and development of muscles. Primary teeth are very important to take good care of and properly maintain. It is therefore important to have regular visits to a pediatric dentist to monitor the development of your child’s permanent teeth and maintain primary teeth for as long as possible.
When it is time for permanent teeth to emerge, they will push out the primary teeth. If your child has lost his/her primary teeth early, the permanent teeth don’t have guide to follow which can result in misaligned teeth.
Tips on how to care for primary teeth
- For infants, clean the gums with damp cloth every day.
- Use infant toothbrush and clean the teeth with water.
- Check if tap water in your area has fluoride. According to studies, fluoride helps prevent tooth decay and preserve primary teeth until it’s time for them to be replaced by permanent teeth. If tap water has fluoride, you can mix it with your baby’s formula. If there’s no fluoride in your tap water, you can buy “nursery water” which has fluoride at any grocery store.
- Feed your baby healthy foods, combining fruits and vegetables in his/her daily diet and avoid sugary snacks.
- Don’t let your baby sleep with a bottle that contains juice or milk. The sugar and acid in those drinks will stay in your baby’s mouth while she or he or he sleeps and this will cause tooth decay. Put water in the bottle instead if your baby is used to this routine.
- Teach your baby good oral hygiene routine so she or he can adopt healthy habit