What Is Baby Teeth?
“Baby teeth” are as essential to infants and children as permanent teeth are to adults.
Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, milk teeth or deciduous teeth, emerge as the first set of dentition. Development of primary teeth buds begin during the second trimester of pregnancy. Eruption begins at the time period of 6 months to one year after birth. Pre-schoolers usually have a full set of 20 baby teeth, including four molars on each arch.
A baby tooth is usually left in a child’s mouth until the permanent tooth beneath it is ready to emerge through the gums. The baby tooth’s roots dissolve, causing the tooth to become loose and fall out. A few weeks later, the permanent tooth emerges.
One of the most popular assumptions about primary dentition is that they are insignificant to a child’s oral health in the future. The American Dental Association (ADA) emphasises their importance, advising parents to schedule a “baby check-up” with a paediatric dentist within six months of the first tooth appearing.
Why Is It Important To Care For Baby Teeth?
While baby teeth are only in the mouth for a short time, they play an important role:
- Make room for their permanent counterparts
- Give the face its normal appearance
- Responsible for the development of jaw bones and facial musculature
- Contribute to the development of clear speech
- Assist in achieving good nutrition (missing or decayed teeth make it difficult to chew, causing children to reject foods)
- Assist in giving permanent teeth a healthy start (decay and infection in baby teeth can cause damage to the permanent teeth developing beneath them)
What Are The Functions Of Primary Teeth?
Getting first teeth can be a traumatic process. Biting on chewing rings, wet gauze pads, and clean fingers can help soothe tender gums. Though most three-year-old children have a full set of primary teeth, eruption occurs gradually, typically beginning at the front of the mouth.
The following are the functions of deciduous teeth:
Speech Development And Production – It is critical for cognitive, social, and emotional development to learn to speak clearly. Primary tooth positioning facilitates correct phonetics and speaking skills.
Speech development entails speaking in a clear tone, which leads to the development of good pronunciation and speech habits and lowers the likelihood of future speech impairments or other problems.
This is due to the tongue’s, lips’, cheeks’, and teeth’s intertwined mechanism when forming sounds. The tooth structure also supports the developing facial muscles and shapes child’s face.
Promote Balanced Nutrition– Children with malformed or severely decayed primary teeth are more likely to suffer from dietary deficiencies, malnutrition, and underweight.
Proper chewing motions are learned over time and with a lot of practises. Healthy primary teeth encourage good chewing habits and allow for more nutritious eating.
Self-Esteem – Even very young children are keen to point out crooked teeth and crooked smiles. Primary tooth care can improve social interactions, reduce the risk of halitosis (oral malodour), and promote confident smiles and positive social interactions.
Proper Alignment – One of the primary functions of milk teeth is to provide adequate space for the development of adult teeth. Furthermore, these spacers aid in the proper alignment of adult teeth and promote jaw development.
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Missing primary teeth cause the remaining teeth to “shift” and fill spaces incorrectly if left untreated. As a result, paediatric dentists frequently recommend space-maintaining devices.
Guiding Force – Most importantly, primary teeth serve as a framework for the permanent teeth’s movement. When child’s permanent teeth proceed exerting pressure through the gum line, there is already a place made available for them, reducing the chances of crowding or overlapping teeth and improper eruption.
If the baby tooth is lost early due to dental decay or any other reason, the adjoining teeth tend to migrate or tip into that space. This prevents the permanent tooth from erupting into that space, resulting in mal-aligned teeth.
The Health Of Erupting Permanent Teeth – Between the roots of the baby teeth, formation of the permanent teeth occurs. Baby teeth are much smaller, and cavities can rapidly spread through their thin enamel once they begin.
If these cavities are not treated, the baby tooth may develop an infection or abscess, which may impede the development of the young permanent tooth beneath.
What Are The Possible Reasons For Early Loss Of Deciduous Teeth?
Baby teeth can be lost too soon as a result of:
- Early childhood caries (decay): Baby teeth, like adult teeth, can develop cavities. Without proper oral hygiene habits, decay can occur, which, if untreated, can necessitate tooth extraction. Early childhood caries (ECC), also known as nursing bottle tooth decay, is the deterioration of a young child’s tooth enamel caused by long – term or extreme exposure to sugar or sweetened liquids.
- Abscess: An infection in the gums and other tissue surrounding the teeth. Bacteria can spread to the gums or bone structure if a tooth is broken, cracked, or decayed. If the pulp of a tooth becomes necrotic (dead), the tooth may need to be extracted.
- Traumatic tooth injury (avulsion): A tooth may be completely knocked out as a result of a sports injury or accident.
- Congenital or medical condition: A child may be missing a tooth since birth (teeth typically form under the gums around the second trimester of pregnancy), or tooth loss may occur as a result or symptom of a disease.
How To Care For Child’s Teeth?
It is critical to begin caring for baby’s teeth from the very beginning. Here’s what should parents do:
- During the first few days after birth, begin cleaning baby’s mouth by wiping the gums with a clean, moist gauze pad or washcloth.
- For children under the age of three, begin brushing their teeth as soon as they appear in the mouth, using fluoride toothpaste in a smear or the size of a grain of rice. Brush your teeth thoroughly twice a day.
- Use a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste on children aged 3 to 6. Proper Brushing is advised twice a day.
- Supervise children while they brush their teeth and remind them not to swallow the toothpaste.
- Brush child’s teeth twice a day with a small-sized toothbrush and a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste until you’re confident that the child can brush on their own.
Baby teeth are critical for child’s overall health and development. They assist in chewing, speaking, and smiling. They also make room in the jaws for permanent teeth that are developing beneath the gums.
When a baby tooth is lost too soon, the permanent teeth may drift into the empty space, making it difficult for other adult teeth to come in. This can lead to mal-formation and mal-occlusion. As a result, starting infants with good oral hygiene and regular visits to dentist can help protect their teeth for decades.