February is Children’s Dental Health Month. Establishing good oral hygiene habits sets the foundation for better oral care as they grow, but also for their overall health. Most parents have questions about their child’s teeth. Today I’m going to address a few commonly asked questions I receive from parents, and their answers.
Are Baby Teeth Really that Important?
The short answer is yes. The long answer provides a little more explanation as to why. Primary, baby, or milk teeth are important for several reasons. They help your child speak and chew naturally, and they form a path for the permanent teeth when they are ready to erupt. Premature loss of baby teeth can result in crowding or improper bite in the adult teeth. Cavities in baby teeth can cause pain, swelling, and infection which are extremely uncomfortable to your child and can impact formation of the permanent teeth that replace them. Cavities are the most common chronic childhood disease and are one of the most common reasons children miss school or cannot focus during class. If a child has a cavity in their tooth, we will consider their age and development. Most of the time that means we will treat the tooth. If the child will be losing the tooth in the near future and the cavity is small, it could also mean doing nothing as the cavity will not progress far enough to do damage before it comes out.
Is It Normal For Adult Teeth to Appear Before Baby Teeth Are Lost?
It is actually very common for six-year molars (1st molars) to start erupting before children lose their top and bottom front teeth. Sometimes adult teeth can start coming in behind the baby teeth before they are lost. There is a range of normal in which baby teeth erupt and are lost. The same applies for when adult teeth erupt. Sometimes a baby tooth won’t come out on its own because it does not have a permanent tooth successor. This is something that will be noted and discussed during a routine cleaning and exam.
When Should My Child See An Orthodontist?
Your child’s bite and spacing will be evaluated during regular dental checkups to determine if and when it is appropriate to see an orthodontist. Some children will see an orthodontist as early as six years old. If warranted, younger children may go through early or phase 1 treatment which helps guide the growth of their jaw and permanent teeth as they erupt. If there are concerns, it is common to see an orthodontist before all their permanent teeth come in.
Hopefully, I was able to shed some light on caring for your child’s oral health. I know there are probably many more questions out there that this short blog post has not addressed. If you have other or specific questions, let us know at your child’s next appointment or contact our office.