From the very beginning, parenting is an all-encompassing role. A new baby requires round-the-clock care that involves feeding, bathing, and nurturing. Additionally, babies also need oral care. That’s right! We may not see those pearly whites for several months after birth, but they’re there, developing beneath the surface. And because they are there, they matter.
Often, dentists are met with resistance from parents who prefer to avoid treatment of their child’s baby teeth. This has become an increasingly popular trend in recent years, and it is worth discussing. While it may be evident that baby teeth are only temporary, it may not be so clear that they are there for a particular purpose. If that weren’t the case, then nature would present us with permanent teeth from the very onset.
The Value of Baby Teeth
We don’t often look at baby teeth in the valuable light they deserve, precisely because they fall out eventually. But when we step back, we can see that there must be some point to having a temporary set of teeth. From the dental standpoint, science indicates that the initial set of teeth we all develop is intended to hold space. The jaw grows over several years, up until we are in our early teens. It is not until that time that there is sufficient space to house a full set of teeth that will serve us through adulthood. However, we need teeth long before our teen years.
Teeth enable us to chew food. Teeth are also vital to clear speech. If babies did not have that temporary set of teeth, their speech development might be hindered. If baby teeth are not protected, and they develop severe decay, that decay can spread into the area in which permanent teeth are developing. How unfortunate for a child to lose the infected, painful baby tooth only to see a diseased, painful permanent tooth grow in.
What about Extractions?
No parent wants to witness their child’s needless suffering. The stance that is frequently taken is that, because baby teeth are not valuable, they can be extracted if they become damaged. Let’s look at this. Extraction may seem faster and more productive than, say, a pediatric root canal. However, premature loss of a baby tooth means there is excessive space in the mouth. Even in the early years, this is a precursor to misalignment. Teeth need to occupy space; even baby teeth.
Just like adults, children rely on their teeth to properly chew food for adequate digestion (without an unnecessary tummy-ache). Children’s teeth help them develop the speech habits that will stay with them through adulthood. For help with your child’s dental health, call our Hedgesville, WV office at (304) 754-8803.