How many times have parents said, “But they’re just baby teeth.” Pediatric dentists find a common tendency among parents to dismiss those early baby teeth as unimportant simply because they will eventually be replaced by permanent teeth as the child grows.
Mount Pleasant pediatric dental office Kids Teeth is using National Children’s Dental Health Month in February to remind parents and caregivers that baby teeth do indeed matter both in a child’s short-term development and for long-term dental health.
Primary or baby teeth are important for many reasons:
- They help children speak clearly and chew naturally.
- They aid in dental development, to hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth. When a baby tooth is lost too early, the permanent teeth can drift into the empty space and make it difficult for other adult teeth to find room when they come in. This can make teeth crooked or crowded.
- Good habits start early. Teaching children to care for their primary teeth plays a critical role in how they care for their permanent teeth.
Parents who don’t take their children to the dentist at an early age or don’t fill cavities in baby teeth in a timely matter face bigger dental issues down the road. Depending on the age of the child, the tooth could remain in the mouth for several years before they lose it on their own. That means the cavity will grow and eventually cause severe pain and discomfort.
Neglecting early dental care also can cause damage to the permanent tooth and potentially result in spacing issues as permanent teeth emerge. A non-functioning tooth makes chewing and speaking more difficult.
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends children see a pediatric dentist by 12 months of age or within 6 months after their first tooth appears.
“The idea of such early dental visits is still surprising to many new parents,” said Dr. Mike Myers. “We are continually educating parents on the important of early dental care.”
National studies are showing preschool-aged children are getting more cavities. In fact, one in four children in the United States has had at least one cavity by the age of 4, and many kids get cavities as early as age 2.
“Taking your child to the pediatric dentist at a young age is the best way to prevent tooth decay and promote a healthy mouth,” Myers said. “We help parents learn how to properly clean their child’s teeth and maintain a lifetime of good oral health.”
To promote good dental health, Kids Teeth is hosting a Healthy Smile Selfie Contest. During the month of February, take a photo of your children practicing good dental hygiene – brushing, flossing, drinking water, eating healthy foods, etc. Upload it to your Facebook page and tag @kidsteethsc or share on Instagram using #healthysmileselfie.
For each entry submitted in the contest, Kids Teeth will donate $1 to Windwood Farm, a home for boys who have been abused or neglected.
The winner will receive one year of free dental care and kid’s Fitbit (grand prize valued at $560 and includes two exams, two fluoride treatments, two prophy treatments (polishing) and two bitewing X-rays). One entry per child, per household; entrants do not have to be current Kids Teeth patients to be eligible to win.