Many parents believe that the primary (baby) teeth are not as important as the adult teeth because they are “just going to fall out anyway.” However, these teeth play a vital role in a child’s health and development, and childcare professionals should be advocates for their care. Here’s why:
- Healthy teeth promote overall good health
Did you know that a tooth infection not only causes pain but can also cause fever and infections that spread through the rest of the body? Keep children healthy by preventing tooth infections and decay.
- Strong teeth are needed for eating
Good nutrition is vital for a growing child. In order for children to be able to eat all of the foods that are good for them (such as fruits and vegetables) they have to have strong teeth.
- Speech development is dependent on teeth
Missing teeth make it very hard for a child to learn to speak properly. Teeth are needed in order to make many of the sounds we use in the English language.
- Baby teeth hold spaces for adult teeth
If a baby tooth falls out too early, permanent teeth can drift into the empty space, making it difficult for other permanent teeth to find space later on.
- A great smile promotes self esteem
We may think things like this only matter to teenagers and adults, but young children are quick to point out things like chipped, discolored or missing teeth. Having a nice smile will help children have self-confidence and positive social experiences from a young age.
What steps should parents take to keep their child’s baby teeth healthy?
- Brush twice a day from the time teeth first start appearing with a good fluoride children’s toothpaste
- Attend regular dental checkups — see How to Teach Parents to Talk to Their Children About Dental Visits and Where to Direct Parents to Find Oral Healthcare for Their Child
- Feed children a healthy diet that is good for their teeth — See What Children Should Eat (and What They Should Avoid) for Optimum Oral Health