A Closer Look At ‘Baby Teeth’

A Closer Look At ‘Baby Teeth’

Our Clapham dentists take a look at some of the misunderstandings surrounding a child’s first teeth.

It may seem a long time ago for some of us, but we have all had two sets of teeth.

The first set, which often causes some discomfort when they first erupt, usually only lasts us for a few years, although some of our baby teeth can still be present in our early twenties in some rare cases.

We all know that we should take good care of our adult teeth as, once they have become damaged or have fallen out, there are no more natural teeth to replace them. Where this happens, we would need  substitutes like dentures or dental implants. Baby teeth are a bit of a mystery to some people though, but are fascinating in their own right, and, despite the fact that they will eventually fall out, good care needs to be taken of them too.

Why do they fall out easily after the first few years?

This is a bit of a mystery to some of our patients. We have been asked why a child’s first tooth simply falls out whilst an adult tooth has to be extracted, removing the roots of the tooth from the jawbone. The answer lies in these roots themselves.

Some people believe that baby teeth have no roots as these appear not to be present when the tooth comes out. This isn’t true though, and if it were the case, our first or milk teeth, would easily fail when it comes to eating our food.

Baby teeth do actually have roots. The interesting thing is that, as the adult teeth beneath them start to develop, they literally ‘dissolve’ the roots of the baby teeth above them as they grow. Once the roots of the baby teeth have completely gone, there is little, other than a bit of skin on the gums, holding them in place. The first sign that this has happened is that the tooth becomes wobbly, before eventually becoming free of the gum.

This is a natural process and will happen in most instances. Sometimes though, the adult tooth may erupt behind the baby tooth and the baby tooth will then need to be extracted by a children’s dentist at the Confidental Clinic in Clapham.

Are baby teeth important?

It would be a serious mistake to think that, because they will fall out soon, baby teeth are unimportant. You should do all that you can to help your children keep their baby teeth in good health. This means watching what they eat and drink and supervising them when they brush their teeth.

Premature loss of the baby teeth can lead to a number of problems, not least toothache if it is caused by decay.

Without baby teeth, children will struggle to eat solid foods and may, perhaps subconsciously, start to avoid harder foods and thereby limit what they eat. Unless you are careful about this, it could result in slower development of the skeletal and muscular systems. Early loss of baby teeth can also affect the way that your child’s speech develops. Habits such as a lisp, developed at this age, can have long term effects on a child’s confidence and some speech defects may even remain into their adult life.

Adult tooth development

Baby teeth also act as a ‘placeholder’ for the adult teeth that will eventually erupt. Maintaining a healthy baby tooth allows the adult tooth to erupt in the same place. If the baby tooth has come out some time before the adult tooth starts to erupt, it is very likely to erupt in a different place. With the loss of even a few baby teeth, this can cause teeth to grow in a crooked and uneven manner, with all the problems associated with that.

Baby teeth will eventually fall out, hopefully naturally and not because of tooth decay etc. There are a number of things that parents and guardians can do to help this happen in the best way possible.

  • Educate your child why looking after their teeth is important, using child friendly videos or books
  • Make sure that you supervise them when they clean their teeth, at least until they are old enough to be trusted to do so themselves. Make sure they brush for at least 2 minutes
  • Avoid excessive sweets and sugary drinks, perhaps reserving these for special occasions
  • Make sure that they see a dentist regularly. This should be done every six months from the age of one year old, even before their teeth may have erupted.

At the Confidental Clinic in Clapham, we believe that oral health care should start at a young age to help the development of healthy teeth as we grow up. We encourage parents to bring their child to see one of our child friendly dentists from an early age and if you haven’t yet done this, now is the ideal time to do so. You can help your child grow up with healthy teeth and gums by ensuring that they are registered with our practice. To do this, please call us on 020 7801 9060.

For more information on baby teeth care, please visit https://www.webmd.com/parenting/baby/teething-symptoms-remedies#1