Awareness about the kid’s teeth or the milk teeth or the primary teeth (as we dentists call them) is not much among the parents.
These are just milk teeth and will fall off eventually, is what we dentists hear routinely in our practice.
But is this really the case??
Well actually these teeth are going to fall off one fine day, but the most important point here is should we save them or preserve them till the time they are still there in our kid’s mouth??
The answer is YES.
The milk teeth or the primary teeth are as important as the permanent teeth. They serve many purposes the same way permanent teeth do. The milk teeth start falling and the permanent teeth start coming at around 6-7 years, and the complete set of permanent teeth erupt by around 12 years (except the wisdom teeth). So, we need to preserve the milk teeth for approximately a decade or even more which is the major part of our children’s childhood.
Importance of Milk Teeth
The primary teeth serve many purposes for the child, that should not be ignored.
Helping in Speech: The eruption of teeth and kids learning words and how to speak go almost parallel to each other. The teeth play a vital role in speech. Learning to talk is also important for social development and cognitive skills. So, if the teeth are decayed and finally are missing (especially the baby’s front upper and lower teeth) there will be some difficulty in pronouncing certain words. This might lead to loss of confidence among peers as your child might find it difficult to pronounce certain words. e.g. the “th” sound at the end of “tooth” is difficult to pronounce if you don’t have the front two teeth.
Health and Nutrition: The way to food is through the mouth, and to chew that food teeth are required. So, if there is a loss of teeth due to nursing bottle caries or normal decay in the teeth, your child will find it difficult to chew the food, either because of the pain or due to the absence of teeth it would just be difficult to chew in that area. This further would lead to a loss of interest in food, weight loss and weakness. So, healthy teeth are the way to good health and nutrition for our kids.
Self Confidence: A smile is the first thing we see in a person, and what if the smile either doesn’t have teeth or has carious teeth? The confidence level of a child goes down when he or she is mocked by his or her friends for having an unpleasant smile. It reduces the child’s self-confidence. And with bullying becoming more prevalent in schools these days, children can get bullied for as simple things as his or her teeth. So, the parents can help prevent that by making sure the teeth are healthy and in good shape.
Pain and Discomfort: If the cavities in the milk teeth are not taken care of when they are in the initial stages, it might lead to pain and infection which can be severe and also sometimes fatal. This pain will lead to more dentist appointments, painful treatments, missed school, parents missing work and taking kids to appointments. So, it would be better to take kids for a routine dental check-up at least once in 6 months and get any treatment that might be required at that stage and prevent the hassle of the lengthy, time-consuming procedures the child might find uncomfortable to sit for.
Alignment of Permanent teeth: The alignment of the permanent teeth depends almost completely on the primary teeth. The primary teeth act as the space maintainers for the permanent teeth to come to the right place. If lost early, they are unable to give room to the permanent teeth leading to so-called the crooked smile by drifting and tipping of the permanent teeth, which will then need an orthodontic (braces) treatment to correct it. So the best way to avoid this is to preserve the milk teeth for the permanent teeth to erupt in their right place.
Spread of Infection: Untreated primary teeth might lead to the spread of infection till the permanent teeth which lie very close to their roots. This might lead to infection or morphological alterations in the tooth germ of the permanent teeth.
To sum up, primary teeth play a very crucial role in the development of kids both mentally and physically, and as parents, we must make sure our kids are getting proper dental care.
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