Why are baby teeth important?
It’s easy to think of baby teeth as being a trial run and it not mattering if they are healthy or fall out because of decay.
However baby teeth are very important to your child’s healthy development and from a dentists perspective should be looked after as well as you do with your permanent adult teeth.
The first and most important role of baby teeth is to support the normal growth and development of your jawbone (and later your adult teeth). Disfiguration or poor development of your jaw can have serious impact on the look and structure of your face as well as what your smile looks like when your adult teeth are forming.
Your baby teeth are also important in preserving space in your mouth and jaw for your adult teeth to grow into. If the space isn’t reserved, the adult teeth will push their way through and misalign other teeth in the process.
Believe it or not, our teeth help us with pronunciation when we speak. So, having healthy baby teeth helps with your child’s speech development and avoids issues with speech impediments.
When children get to kindergarten, pre-school or primary school age and among other children, their sense of self-image expands rapidly. Children who have bad teeth at this age have been found to develop problems with negative self-image that may not be alleviated even after healthy new permanent teeth appear.
When should baby teeth appear?
It is usual for the first baby tooth to erupt when your child is between 6 – 9 months. Once teeth appear, you can help your child develop great dental hygiene habits by routinely cleaning their teeth for them until they are old enough to learn how to brush their own teeth.
When your child is still very young, you can use a soft cloth that you gently wipe or rub over the teeth and gums. Later a soft bristled brush can be used.
When is it right for my child’s first dentist visit?
Each child is different so dentists advise that the first appointment be six months after your child’s first baby teeth have come up. This is usually when they are around three years old.
In this first visit the dentist is checking to see that their development (mouth, gums and teeth) is normal and detect any potential problems that can be managed before serious conditions occur.