Around six months, your child’s first teeth will begin to erupt. For the next few years, these primary teeth will continue to grow in and eventually be lost as they near their teens. Even though primary teeth aren’t permanent, they’re very important! Having healthy baby teeth is an important part of growth for any child – with effects that last until their golden years!
Why Healthy Baby Teeth Matter
Set the Groundwork for Primary Teeth
Even though baby teeth are inevitably lost, they play a major role in how your child’s permanent teeth grow in. You may think of teeth as “set” in place, but they’re able to shift around to fill in gaps. Primary teeth grow in position and act as a placeholder for the permanent teeth, which replace them as the primary teeth are lost.
If you don’t help your child practice good dental care, it’s possible that excessive damage from cavities or gum disease could lead to teeth being lost too early. More commonly, accidents and injuries to the mouth can dislodge a tooth before the permanent tooth is ready to replace it.
In either case, a prematurely lost baby tooth can have long-lasting ramifications on how your child’s permanent teeth grow. Their permanent teeth are likely to shift slightly and leave large gaps that make it easier for food or bacteria to hide and grow.
The best ways to avoid issues are to make sure they’re taking care of their teeth and providing them with suitable mouth guards whenever they play sports that may lead to contact. Even non-contact sports, like soccer or basketball, can lead to mouth injuries from accidental collisions. Keep this in mind and don’t ignore the importance of healthy baby teeth just because they’re temporary!
Establish Important Dental Care Habits
Dental care is something you practice for a lifetime. Brushing, flossing, using mouthwash and even cleaning your tongue are all things you must learn to do. Fortunately, children have a set of “learner” teeth to practice on before they grow in the teeth that they’ll need to protect for decades to come.
Use the opportunity of baby teeth to work with your son or daughter, teaching them the best oral care habits you can and not letting them fall into bad habits. How they treat their dental care routine as a child will impact their long-term self-care routines! A good brusher in childhood is far more likely to be a good brusher as they grow up.
You can take steps to improve their dental care habits by staying involved. Many parents find it easier to turn brushing into a family activity – where at least one parent is always brushing with them. This gives you an opportunity to ensure that they’re brushing twice per day, and to watch their technique to make sure they’re brushing effectively.
Healthy Baby Teeth Improve Development
Primary teeth don’t just play a role in how permanent teeth come into place. They also play a role in several other important aspects of development in a child’s life:
Teeth are a significant factor in speech. As children age, they’ll spend a lot of time learning how to speak through trial and error. Because teeth affect the ways sounds are produced, the sudden loss of a tooth or choosing not to fix a problem with early dental development can lead to speech impediments. While these can often be minor, there’s a possibility that these impediments will grow into major issues that affect them for years.
Everyone needs to eat! And as children grow, they transition from soft foods to solids that come with a lot of necessary chewing to swallow and digest. Sensitive or lost baby teeth might make your child less willing to eat healthy solids, like vegetables or proteins. Nutrition is critical for growing bodies and minds!
Children love to be social. It’s a time of their life where they’ll be constantly meeting new people, engaging with classmates, teachers and more. A healthy mouth leads to more self-confidence, which can help them establish friendships that shape their emotional development too! It’s important not to overlook the “invisible” benefits of good health – physical health like a healthy smile helps mental health!
How to Help Keep Your Child’s Primary Teeth Healthy
Schedule Regular Dental Visits
Because healthy baby teeth are so important to a healthy life, you should consider their regular dental check-ups to be a critical part of their development. Just like your child will be regularly going to their pediatrician, they should be seeing their dentist a few times each year.
Even if you think their dental habits are great, and they don’t mention having any pain or discomfort, dentists are trained and equipped to identify dental health issues long before they may start to show symptoms!
Keep Them Brushing
Of course, the number one thing you can do to keep healthy baby teeth is to make sure your children brush. Every child responds to the responsibility of brushing differently, and it’s common for children to forget to ignore it if not reminded.
If you have trouble getting your child to brush, try different systems to turn it into a habit. You can make a game out of it, turn it into a daily family event, try apps or music, or any other solution that might work. All that matters is that they don’t fall into bad dental habits!
Avoid Sugary Foods
Sugar is a threat to healthy baby teeth, because it feeds bacteria and allows them to do damage to teeth over the course of the day. While it’s hard to avoid sugar, as it’s in many foods and drinks marketed towards children, you should do your best to limit their intake. You can also encourage them to drink water after having any sugary treat, which can help wash away some of the remaining sugar after the snack is gone.
Do You Have Dental Health Questions? Schedule an Appointment!
If you have dental health concerns or just looking for information, the professionals at Walbridge Dental provide complete family dental care to families in the Millbury community. Contact us online to set up an appointment now or call us at 419-836-1033.
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