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Friday, April 8, 2022

The Baby-tooth Truth: They’re Important!

The Baby-tooth Truth: They’re Important!

When your child’s primary (or “baby”) teeth fall out naturally, beginning on average around age 6, you know the side effects are temporary: slight difficulty chewing, perhaps, or a little lisp. You might assume that if a baby tooth is lost prematurely—due to decay or injury, for instance—it would just mean that those temporary side effects last a bit longer and are somewhat more inconvenient.

Actually, when a child loses baby teeth too early, the impact—if left untreated—can be lifelong. It’s important to let Dr, Jared know if your child has lost a tooth through “unnatural” means.

Under normal circumstances, when a primary tooth falls out on its own, the space left behind doesn’t have time to change significantly before the permanent tooth starts emerging into the void. However, if that space is open for a lengthy period—say, two years—it can begin to close on its own. When the permanent tooth is ready to come in, the space may no longer be large enough to accommodate it.

To prevent this, we can create a custom “space maintainer” for the child to wear until it’s time for permanent teeth to emerge.

Another problem: When one or more baby teeth are missing for months or years, a child’s overall bite can change for the worse. The other teeth may shift to fill in the space. In extreme cases, the skeletal structure of the jaw can be affected. Missing teeth can also affect a child’s developing language skills, not to mention chewing ability and appearance.

What’s more, if a baby tooth was lost due to decay, it’s possible that the “bud” of the growing permanent tooth below it was also affected by the decay. That possibility needs to be evaluated and, if necessary, treated.

Our custom-made, child-sized mouthguards for young athletes can help prevent some injuries that might otherwise knock out primary teeth. But many more baby teeth are lost through decay than through injury. Good basic dental hygiene—brush twice a day, floss once and ask us about fluoride sealants—is the ideal preventative.

Click here to schedule an appointment with Dr. Jared. Or give us a call at (509)-891-7070.

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