We hear this statement more often than we like to for sure! We hear it from parents when discussing oral hygiene habits and teeth-friendly dental foods, and we hear it when discussing cavities to the point of rampant dental decay and infections. So why are we at Smiles For Kids so adamant about keeping up with those “Just Baby Teeth”? Why is pediatric dentistry a specialty? Why do we want to keep those teeth healthy? All these are great questions!
Our team is well aware that in most cases all baby teeth will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth. We work very hard on guarding them for the necessary period of time and you will often hear our doctors discuss how to control dental decay and keep it in check as opposed to doing dental treatment. Yet, you have to remember few facts about the baby teeth:
* Most baby teeth (12 of them in the back) must last until 12 years of age. That’s ten years considering that most kids have complete dentition at 2 years of age. Losing baby teeth due to dental decay (especially the ones in the back of the oral cavity) will cause loss of space for permanent teeth. This loss of space compromises proper jaw growth and development, bone formation, and causes major orthodontic problems which often require complicated and otherwise unnecessary orthodontics and possibly surgical treatment. Baby teeth help with chewing and proper nutrition. It is hard for kids to consume and break down food appropriately with large spaces in the back of the mouth.
* Front baby teeth serve a very esthetic function and are important in development of speech. That said, those teeth are the first ones to get replaced at around seven years of age so at Smiles For Kids we often only note the development of decay on these teeth and extract them only in extreme cases of infection.
* Baby teeth with large cavities will get infections! Those infections are painful and dangerous. Any infection in the head and neck area is an emergency situation not to mention a very painful development for kids. Many kids end up in the hospital on IV antibiotics to control dental infections and swelling. Pain often keeps kids and parents up all night and makes for very unpleasant reminder of why we should take care of those "Just Baby Teeth".
* Baby teeth have different structure than permanent teeth and their thin enamel can easily be attacked and penetrated by bacteria therefore they need more diligent preventative dental care. "Fixing" baby teeth is not a small affair! Although the restorations are fairly simple to do comparing to permanent teeth, the teeth are smaller, more prone to recurrence of decay, and kids are young and often not cooperative for restorative appointments.
So in conclusion, we would like to remind you to take immaculate care of those pearly whites. Please remember that as much as dental decay is multifactorial and we have no control over large part of the problem, we can control oral hygiene and diet such as going to bed with milk, sweet drinks (juices and Gatorades) and gummy candy. Let’s give those baby teeth a chance to live out all 12 years of their life in health and prosperity!