Yes, baby teeth are important! As dental professionals, we often have parents ask us if cleanings, exams, and treatment on baby teeth (also known as primary teeth),are really necessary since “they are just going to fall out anyway”. Our answer to this question is a resounding, “Yes!” Healthy baby teeth allow your child to eat and speak easily and painlessly.
According to the CDC, cavities are the most common chronic disease in children aged 6 to 11 and adolescents aged 12 to 19 years. If left untreated, a cavity can spread to the nerve inside the tooth and cause a large infection in the bone and gums that can be very painful, or even life threatening. Baby teeth also hold space so there is room for your child’s adult teeth. If a baby tooth is lost early due to cavities or an infection, other teeth may move into the space and block the adult teeth from coming in.
These outcomes are just two examples why taking care of your child’s baby teeth is so important. Make sure to start brushing your baby’s teeth twice a day as soon as they come in. Some ways to make this more fun are to have your child brush their teeth at the same time you do, use a timer or play a silly song while they brush. Using a fluoride toothpaste is beneficial at all ages. For children under three, use a grain-of-rice sized amount of toothpaste on the brush. For children 3-6 years old, use a pea-sized amount.Limiting snacking and sipping on sugary foods and drinks is also highly recommended. The longer these foods and drinks touch your child’s teeth, the more likely they are to cause cavities.
The American Dental Association recommends that children have their first dental visit by age one. At this “well- child visit” an exam to check for growth and development, cavities, and oral homecare will be done. The dental team will also clean your child’s teeth, discuss good oral hygiene habits and give you tips on caring for your child’s teeth. Best of all, your child will have a positive first dental visit instead of having their first visit be a result of a dental emergency such as pain or a broken tooth. By starting good oral healthcare habits with your child, you are giving them a head start towards a lifetime of healthy teeth.