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The Importance of Baby Teeth

14 June 2013, Dr Sonia Dutta

​Healthy teeth are key to a Healthy childhood. Kids need them for chewing food, speaking clearly and having a bright smile. Last, but not the least, baby teeth or milk teeth hold the spaces for the permanent teeth to come in…. i.e. if a milk tooth is lost, the permanent tooth could come in  crooked or may not come at all!! This can lead to problems like crowding of the adult teeth.  
Hence, it is very important to take good care of these first teeth, even though they will be replaced by permanent or adult teeth.
You may not be aware, but children’s teeth actually start to form before birth! The first primary (“baby” or “milk”) tooth usually appear in an infant between 6-8 months while some get them as young as 3-4 months. By the age of 3years, the child would have his full set of milk teeth.
Many parents overlook the importance of their child's teeth, especially their baby teeth. Some parents do not realize teeth serve functions other than biting and chewing.
Your baby's teeth perform the following functions:

  • Help provide nutrition
  • Help make speech possible
  • Aid in the normal development of the jaw bones and facial muscles
  • Add to an attractive appearance
  • Reserve space for the permanent teeth and help guide them into position

Without healthy, reasonably well-aligned teeth, your child may have difficulty chewing and may not be able to eat a well-balanced diet. If your child's mouth is sore because of cavities, loose teeth, or sore gums, she may refuse to eat or may accept only those foods or liquids she can consume without more pain; and chewing foods of different textures stimulates and exercises the gums and provides a cleansing action for the teeth.
Caring for milk teeth encourages good habits in dental health and hygiene.
Children continue to “change teeth” into the early teenage years. By the age of 13-14 years, all the “baby” teeth are usually lost. Most adults have a complete set of adult teeth by age 16-18 years. There are 28 permanent teeth or up to 32 including the third molars (also called
wisdom teeth).
Occasionally, a baby tooth can come out too early — or can be accidentally knocked out – and a space maintainer can be installed by your pediatric dentist. The purpose is to take the place of the baby tooth until the permanent tooth is ready to emerge.
Teeth are meant to last a life time and the best time to start off with good dental health is as soon as possible. 

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