Advertisement

Why is it important to care for baby teeth?

People think of newborns as having no teeth, but by the time they are born, the 20 primary teeth are already present in the jaw. A baby's front four teeth usually erupt first, typically around six months of age although some children don't have their first tooth until 12 or 14 months. By age 3, most children will have a full set of 20 primary teeth. These baby teeth are important because they will eventually be replaced by 32 permanent teeth. The first permanent molars usually emerge between ages six and seven and are sometimes referred to as six-year molars. Typically, children have the majority of their permanent teeth by 12 to 14 years of age.
Even though baby teeth eventually fall out and are replaced, they are important for several reasons. Healthy teeth are important for eating and not having pain, and therefore a baby's overall health and nutrition. They also maintain the spacing for adult teeth to come in, which is important for healthy lifetime teeth with minimal problems due to alignment. Remember that not all adult teeth come in at the same time. Also, it's important to note that things that take care of the teeth you see also take care of the teeth you don't see. Fluoride supplementation helps baby teeth and developing adult teeth have strong enamel that is resistant to cavities.
Caring for baby teeth is extremely important even though they will eventually fall out. Baby teeth serve a number of purposes. Aside from helping babies eat solid foods, baby teeth are also vital in the development of your child’s ability to speak. On top of that, they also act as placeholders for permanent teeth that are waiting to emerge. If your child’s baby teeth are damaged by tooth decay or some other trauma and fall out or have to be removed prematurely, this could lead to complications with permanent teeth later on. Regular brushing and flossing along with dentist appointments at least twice a year will help ensure that your child’s baby teeth remain healthy and set the stage for a healthy set of permanent teeth as well.

Continue Learning about Children's Oral Health

Ask the Expert: Dental Tips for Kids
Ask the Expert: Dental Tips for Kids
The first smile ... the first tooth ... the first time the baby happily noshes away on his morning oatmeal. All of these are lovely milestones that pa...
Read More
Avoid These Toxins to Protect Your Child's Teeth
Avoid These Toxins to Protect Your Child's Teeth
The WBA heavyweight title fight in June, 1997 will always be referred to as “The Bite Fight,” because Mike Tyson bit off part of Evander Holyfield’s e...
Read More
If my child is going to lose his or her baby teeth, do cavities matter?
American Dental AssociationAmerican Dental Association
Your child's baby teeth are important. Children need strong, healthy teeth to chew their food, speak...
More Answers
How can I get my child to brush his teeth?
Gerald P. Curatola, DDSGerald P. Curatola, DDS
One of my favorite ways to instill good oral care habits is for children to watch and copy their par...
More Answers

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.