Even though they are small and will be replaced by permanent teeth, baby teeth (or primary teeth) play an important role in the overall health of young children. They serve multiple purposes, including saving space for and guiding proper eruption of permanent teeth.
Regular brushing and flossing should be maintained to help kids keep them clean. However, even with good oral hygiene sometimes the small teeth develop cavities. If this happens, the dentist likely will recommend treating it.
You may wonder if this is necessary. Some people think it’s not worthwhile to treat because “it’s just a baby tooth.” Others may wonder why the tooth isn’t pulled if it’s going to fall out anyway.
But in most cases, unless the tooth is about to come out on it’s own very quickly you should fix a cavity in a baby tooth. Here’s why:
Baby Teeth Save Space/Guide Eruption for Permanent Teeth – If they are not there it can affect the placement and spacing when the permanent teeth eventually grow in. This can lead to crowding and additional dental problems and treatments in the future.
Promote Proper Chewing – Baby teeth help children chew properly, which can give parents an extra piece of mind as young kids begin to eat a variety of foods.
Speech – Missing baby teeth can lead to speech problems and trouble pronouncing certain sounds.
Cavities Can Cause Pain or Abscess – Even if they don’t hurt now, if left untreated a cavity can cause pain or even a abscess in a child’s mouth. Ouch.
Spread to Other Teeth – If untreated, the decay can spread to other areas of the mouth.
Can Affect Confidence/Self Esteem – If children are missing teeth or feel self-conscious about them it can affect their confidence. Some children refuse to smile or shy away from interaction because they look different than their peers.
Proper dental care is important at all lifestyle stages, from infants to adults. Regular visits to the dentist can help you stay on track and give you the opportunity to ask questions. Practicing good habits for your children now will set them up for a lifetime of healthy smiles.