Many times at our clinic we get the question, “Doctor, but we should just extract this tooth, after all, it’s just a baby tooth, right?”
The truth is that “baby”, primary, or deciduous teeth have huge importance in the maintenance and development of oral health for a lifetime.
Healthy baby teeth:
- Foster good nutrition through proper chewing
- Aid in speech development
- Build self-esteem by providing a beautiful smile
- Enable a child to pay attention and learn in school without the distraction of dental pain
- Save space in the jaw that is needed for proper development of adult (permanent) teeth
Primary teeth begin forming in utero at approximately the fourth month of fetal life. By the end of the sixth month, all the teeth have begun calcification, which is why a mother’s proper nutrition is very important.
Usually, the lower deciduous central incisors are the first to erupt thus initiating the deciduous dentition. The appearance of the deciduous second molars completes the deciduous dentition by 2 to 2 1/2 years of age. Eruption dates can vary, so if your child is early or late by a few months it doesn’t mean there is something wrong. Genetics also play an important role in eruption patterns.
The most important tooth to preserve is the deciduous second molar, because if it is lost prematurely (before 10-12 years of age) the permanent first molar migrates into the space and creates malocclusion.
The deciduous incisor teeth are functional in the mouth for approximately five years, while the deciduous molars are functional for approximately nine years.
In order to try to prevent costly orthodontic treatment in the future or having to extract teeth at an inappropriate time, it is of extreme importance to have optimal oral health at home. When a child has positive dental experiences, it will shape his/her future oral health.