What are “baby teeth”?

In the dental world, we call them primary teeth, and they’re incredibly important.

Why are primary teeth so important? They are all going to fall out anyway, right? Primary, or deciduous teeth, are extremely important in early physical, emotional and social development. Without proper care of primary teeth, a child could have a lifetime of oral health issues.

If primary teeth are so important, why do we lose “baby teeth?” Primary teeth hold space in the jaw for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.  If baby teeth are lost too early due to decay, permanent teeth can drift into the empty space, making it hard for teeth to find room later on, causing crowding. This can lead to the need for orthodontic treatment later on.

Good dental care actually starts before you can see your child’s teeth.  Even before they start teething, you should run a clean, damp washcloth over the gums to clear away any bacteria daily. When teeth begin to erupt, you can begin to use a toothbrush.  By two years old, every child should be using a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste on the toothbrush.  When teeth start to touch, you should start to floss as well.

As your child gets older, you can begin practicing spitting after brushing with your child. It is important that you always supervise tooth brushing until at least the age of 6. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that children see a dentist by age 1 and continue with regular exams throughout their life. This regular, ongoing maintenance of primary teeth helps set your child up for a lifetime of oral health.

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