How important are children teeth? The common question that is frequently asked to the dentist by many parents is –Why to save or take care of milk teeth when eventually they are going to fall and get replaced by permanent teeth? The answer to this is that Primary/deciduous/milk / baby teeth are just as important as the permanent teeth and require good oral care. Neglecting baby teeth can lead to serious problems.

Importance of Baby Teeth

1.    Mastication: Children need their teeth to chew the food. So if their teeth are allowed to decay, the child will not only suffer from pain and abscessed tooth but also inability to eat which in turn could lead to lifelong eating disorders or poor nutrition.

2.    Smile: Children need their teeth to smile. The stigma of blackened stumps and bad breath can lead to serious teasing at school and at play which could effect the child’s social development.

3.    Baby teeth help in normal growth of the jaw bone and give shape to the face. Baby teeth control the development of the jaw muscles and the jaw bones, so that they are properly developed and can house the permanent set of teeth. Baby teeth give the face its shape and form.

4.    Space Savers

Baby teeth are essential to hold the spaces open so that the adult teeth can come into the correct position when they are finally developed enough to erupt (erupt-to come through the gums for the first time).They prevent malocclusion. If some baby teeth are removed untimely then it could lead to erupting of permanent teeth into inappropriate positions crowding the space meant for eruption of other adult teeth at a later date. Hence leading to crooked teeth, chewing difficulties, facial asymmetries, TMJ problems. Also,crooked teeth are more prone to caries.

5.    Speech: Baby teeth help in development of speech. The tongue produces certain sounds with the presence of baby (primary) teeth. Children have difficulty learning to pronounce sounds such as “th” and “f” without their front teeth. Without healthy, well-aligned teeth, the child may face problems forming words and speaking clearly.

6.    Baby teeth are important to maintain child’s psychological well-being. Healthy looking baby teeth are a tremendous boost to a child's self-confidence and self-esteem.

7.    Bad baby teeth means frequent visits to the dentists and that too at a stage when the only treatment options left are either to remove the grossly decayed teeth or root canal treatment which leads to painful episodes for the child in the dental office, thereby infusing a lifelong fear of dentists in the child.

Thus, it is important to look after baby teeth to avoid damage to the adult teeth when they erupt in the oral cavity. So, visit the dentist as soon as the first tooth erupts and inculcate the habit of visiting the dentist once every 6 months right from childhood. It would help in avoiding dental problems, ensuring healthy smiles throughout life and moreover, reduce the financial burden and loss of time and work due to complicated treatment procedures in future.

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