Primary teeth, commonly called as baby teeth, begin to develop in the fetus at about six weeks of age. After a few months – six months to be exact – baby teeth start to erupt one by one. The first tooth to erupt is usually the middle, front tooth found in the lower jaw known as central incisor. Most of the baby teeth will have been fully erupted by 33 months or 3 years.
When a child reaches 3 years old, it is very critical to save as much decayed baby teeth as possible. As a matter of fact, preventive measures should be done already as early as when the first baby tooth erupted.
You, parents, might be asking – “Why do I need to take care of baby teeth, knowing that new set of teeth will replace it after a few years?” Parents often don’t know the importance of baby teeth and its effect to the eruption of permanent teeth.
So, why are the baby teeth important?
- Baby teeth act as a space maintainer or placeholders for the permanent teeth. It holds the spot where a larger permanent tooth will erupt. When a baby tooth is lost earlier than it should be, the adjacent tooth or the other permanent tooth can drift – thus, making it difficult for other permanent tooth to find room when it’s their turn to erupt. This can cause crooked tooth, misalignment, or malocclusion.
- Baby teeth guide the eruption pathway of permanent teeth. Certain baby teeth guide the permanent teeth on where it should erupt (i.e. more forward or more backward).
- Baby teeth aid in speech development of toddlers. A good example of this is when the upper front teeth touches the lower lip to be able to pronounce an “f” sound. Absence of baby teeth may limit the vowels and consonants a child can pronounce.
- Baby teeth help children chew food easily and properly.
Given these points, parents should be give their kids’ baby teeth with great importance and thorough care. Keep in mind that baby teeth are very important to a child’s physical, social, and emotional development.
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