Baby teeth can begin emerging as early as 4 months in age and start to fall out by age six. Because the teeth all fall out eventually, it might seem like the health of the teeth isn't a vital part of your child's oral health. But that's a potentially dangerous myth.
Here are three reasons why baby teeth care is important to your child's oral health. Make sure you keep all pediatric dentist appointments and make a new appointment whenever a problem arises.
Cavities Spread Infection
Baby teeth can get cavities as easily as adult teeth. Why does a cavity matter if it's not causing pain and the tooth will fall out anyway?
Cavities open holes in the tooth. Those holes can allow oral bacteria to enter the center of the tooth and cause an infection. Eventually, the infection can spread on through the tooth and into the gums. From there, the infection can open a fistula, or small tunnel, that can allow the infection to spread throughout the body.
Infections can take hold and begin to spread long before any symptoms appear. So it's important to keep regular appointments with a professional pediatric dentist, like those at Pittsburgh Dental Spa, and to follow any cavity treatment advice. This might include using a filling to plug the cavity and improving brushing habits at home while reducing sugary beverages.
Baby teeth serve as placeholders for the adult teeth that will later emerge in the same spots. If a baby tooth is lost prematurely due to infection-related decay or trauma, the permanent tooth can emerge in the incorrect position.
Both the premature missing tooth and the incorrectly emerging permanent tooth can cause spacing issues for the surrounding teeth, as well. This can lead to bite issues such as an overbite, underbite, or crossbite, which will all require orthodontic treatment.
If your child loses a tooth prematurely, make an appointment with the dentist immediately. Spacers and other dental devices can be used to keep the other teeth from shifting and to help ensure the permanent tooth emerges correctly.
Chewing and Speech Impediments
Chewing and speech impediments are a well-known side effect once baby teeth start falling out. But losing the baby teeth too quickly or early can turn these problems from a temporary, easily overcome problem to a long-term issue.
Loss of multiple baby teeth in a row can cause your child to start chewing on the other side of the mouth. This puts excessive force on those teeth and can eventually cause damage or, if also baby teeth, promote those teeth to fall out faster than normal.
Early and prolonged loss of teeth in the front of the mouth can cause a longstanding lisp that might require speech therapy even after the adult teeth emerge.