Are baby teeth important?

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Baby teeth are very important to the overall well-being of a child. Baby teeth are important for lots of reasons, but especially the following: eating, esthetics, speech development, permanent tooth positioning, and permanent tooth health.

If your child’s teeth hurt or are missing, they will have trouble eating. If they aren’t eating, then they will have trouble growing and developing.

Esthetics is important to the socialization and self-esteem of children. If the teeth are full of holes, or have to be extracted due to infection, the child may notice that their mouth looks different from other children.

Speech development can also be impaired if the teeth, especially the front ones, have to be removed too early. Speech delay, like esthetics, can affect socialization in a negative way.

Baby teeth hold space for the permanent teeth. If the baby teeth are lost prematurely, then the teeth will shift to fill in the vacancy and the permanent teeth cannot come into the correct position.

The final reason that baby teeth are important is that they determine the environment into which the permanent teeth erupt. In other words, if the permanent teeth erupt into a mouth that already has cavities, or dental caries, then the cavities will spread to the permanent teeth. Dental caries is an infectious disease caused by bacteria. It is spread from tooth to tooth and even person to person.

So, take care of those baby teeth so your child will have healthy permanent teeth!

** Adapted from an article by Dr. Preece, a Dentist in Fort Worth, Tx. **

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