Whether your child is 1 or 11, their dental health is important.
Your child’s baby teeth begin erupting (or coming in) around three months after birth and will continue growing in through age 5 or 6. From age 6 through 12, their baby teeth will fall out as their permanent come in and replace them.
Unfortunately, many parents don’t see the purpose or value of their child’s baby teeth. The myth that you don’t have to care about the health of your child’s baby teeth is prevalent. It is an easy myth to believe in as the baby teeth fall out on their own eventually and are replaced.
Tooth decay (cavities) are the most prevalent, preventable childhood disease as noted by Center for Disease Control 1 out of 5 children, ages 6-11 will have at least one cavity on their baby teeth.
Why are cavities on teeth a big deal?
First, consider the purpose and importance of baby teeth: Baby teeth allow your young child to eat and speak. They also are space holders that ensure the proper alignment of their future, permanent adult teeth.
Baby teeth are important for your young child’s proper growth and development.
Damage done to teeth via tooth decay have immediate and long-term consequences that can negatively affect your child’s health and well-being.
How Cavities Ruin Your Child’s Smile
Baby teeth are just like regular, adult teeth, only smaller. Without proper care, they are vulnerable to decay caused by the accumulation of plaque from sugars and carbohydrates in foods and drinks. If the teeth aren’t treated, the plaque can breakdown the protective enamel of teeth, making them more vulnerable to decay and infection. Tooth decay can make the teeth sensitive, brittle and unstable. Advanced tooth decay can result in premature tooth loss and the infection of nearby teeth and gum tissue. This can cause pain and inflammation. The decay of a baby tooth can also spread down into the permanent tooth coming up underneath it, which can set your child up for increased dental health risks.
The pain, sensitivity and inflammation may make your child uncomfortable in the short-term. On top of the pain, the inability to eat or speak properly when teeth are prematurely lost can frustrate and scare your child. When your child develops cavities on their teeth and nothing is done to treat them, your child’s short-term quality of life can be reduced.
In the long term, the tooth decay of baby teeth can lead to the premature loss of teeth. The early losing of teeth increases the risk that your child’s permanent, adult teeth will grow in crooked and out of alignment. Crooked, crowded or spaced-out teeth and a misaligned bite will most likely require years of orthodontic treatment, which can be a financial burden on you and an emotional or psychological burden on your child.
Permanent teeth that don’t grow in correctly can also lead to the necessity of future restorative or cosmetic dental work.
Crooked, crowded or spaced-out teeth can also affect your child’s chewing abilities, speaking abilities and will increase their risk of future tooth decay and gum disease.
When your child’s teeth are decayed, they provide a bad foundation on which their adult, permanent teeth grow into. If the tooth decay of the teeth is severe, your child’s permanent teeth will grow in already decayed. This, in turn, will require immediate dental attention.
The more severe the cavities are on your child’s teeth the more dental attention will be required. The constant, and possibly more invasive necessary dental procedures can scare young children and give them a traumatic dental experience they can harbor through adulthood. Tooth decay in can lead to pain, tooth abscess, swelling gums and cause disease in the adult, permanent teeth coming in.
It is important that you take care of your child’s teeth, even if they are baby teeth. Teeth serve an important function in ensuring that your child’s permanent, adult teeth have a healthy foundation.
Protecting and strengthening your child’s teeth is critically important, especially while they are young. It is recommended that parents bring their children in for their first dental visit by the age of one. A dental professional is your best resource on how to provide the best dental care for your child.