Milk teeth are just as important as permanent teeth

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When it comes to the tiny tot’s teeth, many people take the high road. People take it easy thinking, after all it is the milk teeth. It is supposed to exfoliate anyway. So why bother if it is decayed or there is earlier than required exfoliation of the tooth due to decay. Little do they realize that it is the milk teeth or baby teeth that paves way for a stronger, healthier permanent teeth. The fate of the permanent dentition is fairly dependent on the baby teeth and how well one takes care of it.

For instance, early exfoliation of the milk teeth (due to decay) leads to crowded permanent dentition. Once a certain milk tooth exfoliates (earlier than required due to gross decay), there will be a resultant space for a long time (since it may not be time for the permanent tooth to erupt yet. As I mentioned earlier there was ‘early’ exfoliation of the certain milk tooth. Each teeth in the oral cavity has a predetermined age range for eruption and exfoliation. For example the lower front teeth are the first to exfoliate. Roughly at around 6 to 7 years. Any time before that is considered as ‘early exfoliation’). So, when early exfoliation happens, the adjacent milk teeth move onto its position (especially since that space has been empty since a while) and thus, the permanent tooth which is supposed to replace the exfoliated tooth will not be able to erupt onto its natural position. It may erupt elsewhere, it may try to squeeze into whatever little space available and cause crowding of teeth or in some cases, it may not erupt at all.

Other times, when the milk tooth is decayed and there is a long standing infection, the infection would have reached the pulp and further below to the roots. At such times, it is just a matter of time before the infection reaches out its putrid tentacles onto the permanent tooth bud below. The permanent tooth bud is usually found just below the milk tooth, bidding time waiting for the right time to push the milk tooth away and erupt onto the formers position. A baby tooth typically doesn’t loosen until the permanent tooth below pushes it up to take its place. So if the infection has reached the permanent tooth, it will not be able to exert the force required to push the milk tooth away, it may erupt decayed and infected or in many cases it may not erupt at all.

And then there is always the case of unnecessary pain and suffering the child has to undergo due to dental decay. The amount of school hours lost due to tooth related pain. The social stigma the child has to face due to unruly teeth or darkened and unpleasant teeth.

Various studies have shown how even the self confidence, self esteem and emotional stability of the child is thwarted due to dental or dental related issues. Hence, it would be in everyone’s best interest to take your child to a dentist every few months.

Early and prompt treatment of dental lesions. Motivating the child to maintain a regular dental routine. Eating a well balanced food for healthy teeth. Encouraging twice daily toothbrushing. Rinsing the mouth thoroughly after every meal/snack. Using a fluoridated toothpaste to brush teeth. All the above mentioned goes a long way in keeping your child’s dentition healthy and pain free.

In some instances if the tooth is grossly decayed and the tooth cannot be saved and is advised extraction, you do not have to worry. Follow your dentist’s advice and use a ‘space maintainer’ provided by the dentist till the permanent tooth erupts in order to prevent the aforementioned problems with the permanent tooth.

Dental visits are pertinent not just for treatments, but sensitizing your child to the dentist and the dental office is just as important.

Healthy habits have to be cultivated from an early age. Dental visits and dental hygiene should become an essential part of the child’s life. School based oral health programs should be mandated by the policy makers. Children of today are the adults of tomorrow. They are our future and it is important we make our future strong.

Hence, do not take your child’s dental woes lightly. Give them timely care.

Wishing everyone a blessed Eid Al Adha.

Until next time, take care, be healthy, God bless you!

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