Childhood cavities seem inevitable – nearly every kid gets one at some point or another – and baby teeth aren’t permanent, so it’s no big deal if kids occasionally skip brushing and flossing, right? Pediatric dentists disagree. Despite the common belief that baby teeth aren’t important, taking care of children’s teeth will help them develop healthy adult smiles.
Baby teeth serve the same important functions as adult teeth: kids use them to chew and speak. On top of that, baby teeth preserve the structure of the gumline and “save space” for adult teeth to grow.
When a permanent tooth is ready to erupt, the baby tooth above it loses its root, becomes loose and falls out, leaving room for the adult tooth to emerge. If that empty space is too small or nonexistent, the adult tooth will push other teeth out of the way or come out in the wrong place. One out-of-place tooth can affect the placement of other teeth, resulting in maloccluded, or crooked or crowded teeth. Maloccluded teeth are more difficult to clean and more prone to disease. They may require expensive orthodontic treatment to correct, and can affect children’s self-esteem.
Childhood cavities can affect the health of adult teeth as well. Cavities are caused by bad bacteria that live in the mouth, and those bacteria don’t disappear when baby teeth fall out. Adult teeth will face the same conditions that a child’s baby teeth did.
Some oral care products can help young children keep their mouths healthy, even if they lack the dexterity to be expert brushers and flossers. For example, an oral care probiotic chew, such as EvoraKids, will provide good bacteria to the mouth. Good bacteria adhere to chewing surfaces, where they compete with harmful oral bacteria for nutrients and space. Because bad bacteria have less room to grow, they also have less room to attack teeth.
Parents can ensure that their children have healthy adult mouths by demonstrating good oral hygiene from the start. Parents should teach their children to brush and floss, provide healthy foods and schedule regular check-ups with a pediatric dentist.