Did you know that your child’s 20 primary teeth are already included in the jaw when they’re born? These teeth begin to erupt between the ages of six months to one year old.
In the past, there have been many misconceptions about the role of baby teeth. People once speculated that it wasn’t important to care for primary teeth since they were going to fall out regardless.
Now, most people know better. The baby teeth may fall out, but they’re instrumental in facilitating the health of the permanent teeth. Caring for your baby’s smile now can set them up for a healthy smile for life.
As the teeth begin to erupt (all 20 should have erupted by the time your child is three years old), you should continue to care for them and schedule regular dental visits for your child.
Here are six reasons that show just how important it is to keep those baby teeth healthy!
- Help Your Child Develop Proper Speech
Baby teeth do more than give your child an adorable smile they actually support proper development of speech.
As babies learn to talk, their set of teeth is going to help them pronounce words correctly and learn the proper way a language is spoken.
Adults who are missing their natural teeth can attest to how challenging saying certain words can be. Supporting a healthy smile can also support healthy speech habits in your little one.
- Encourage Healthy Eating Habits
Children who have healthy baby teeth are less likely to develop bad eating habits. Why is this?
When a child is able to chew their food properly, they’re able to enjoy fresher, healthier foods as they get older, including vegetables. A child who is in pain because of tooth decay or who is missing teeth may opt for softer, more processed foods because they are easier to chew.
Proper chewing of food also facilitates healthy digestion, as food can be thoroughly chewed before swallowing, placing less stress on the digestive system. Keeping those baby teeth healthy can make your job of getting your child to eat healthy foods easier!
- Guide Permanent Teeth into Place
Perhaps one of the most important functions of baby teeth is to act as a guide for adult teeth to come into their proper positions.
In fact, dentists often refer to baby teeth as placeholders for the permanent teeth. Your child’s permanent teeth are already forming under the gums before they come in. If a baby tooth is lost early due to decay or injury, the permanent teeth may shift and not erupt through the gumline in their proper positions.
The result of this is often a crowded smile or misaligned teeth, which will require orthodontic treatment to correct. By taking care of baby teeth now, you can help your child have a straight, healthy smile for life!
- Prevent Future Tooth Decay
Unfortunately, tooth decay among children is all too common. As soon as your child’s teeth begin to come in, there is the potential for tooth decay.
Your child’s baby teeth can be kept healthy by your Asheville dentist. One reason is to retain a healthy baby tooth until it naturally falls out, therefore facilitating a proper path for the adult teeth.
Another reason is that the bacteria responsible for tooth decay have the potential to affect the permanent teeth that haven’t even come through the gum tissue yet. This is because the bacteria can travel up to the developing tooth and begin to affect that tooth before it even erupts into the oral cavity.
Your child’s teeth should be cavity-free regardless of whether or not the tooth is a baby tooth, but if your child does have a cavity, getting it filled with your Asheville dentist as soon as possible can help prevent the spread of decay.
- Build Self-Esteem and Confidence
Children who are proud of their smile tend to have better self-esteem and are empowered to build confidence. When children begin to take over the task of cleaning their smile and can see the results of their hard work, it helps build their confidence.
Supporting those healthy baby teeth can also give your child their best chance to be successful in school. Children who experience tooth decay may be distracted by the pain and discomfort of a toothache, leading them to not pay full attention and even fall behind.
- Help Develop a Healthy Jaw
Healthy baby teeth can help support proper growth of the jaw and the surrounding muscles throughout childhood. Your child’s jaw continues to develop throughout the first decade of their life, so ensuring the baby teeth are present for this development may help prevent jaw problems in the future, such as discomfort from temporomandibular joint (TMJ) pain or headaches.
How to Clean Your Baby’s Smile
Cleaning your child’s smile is essential for healthy teeth, and fortunately, it’s a relatively easy task to do!
When your child is an infant, you can gently wipe out their mouth after each feeding with a clean cloth. Once your child has a tooth, you can gently brush the tooth.
When your child’s first tooth appears, it’s time to make that first dentist appointment. Your dentist can ensure no tooth decay is present and talk more with you about your child’s smile to ensure optimal oral health. As soon as your child has two teeth that touch, you can begin flossing.
Although your Asheville dentist services will advise you on the best way to clean your child’s teeth during your appointment, remember to not use fluoride until your child has reached the age of three. You should continue to monitor brushing even after your child is able to do the task themselves. Most children will need some type of brushing supervision until around the age of eight.
By gently wiping out the mouth during infancy, brushing your child’s teeth twice a day as they get older, and continuing to monitor brushing as your child takes over, you can help build a healthy smile for your child’s life.
Your child’s primary teeth are an essential part of their life and health. Primary teeth may erupt as early as the age of six months and be around until your child enters their teenage years, as the back molars typically aren’t replaced until then.
When your child’s baby teeth are so important, it pays to take care of them. Visit your dentist in Asheville today to ensure your baby has a beautiful healthy smile!