It is a common misconception among parents that since baby teeth will be replaced by permanent ones later, it is less important to care for them. This is a myth because tooth decay is a serious dental issue that affects everyone from toddlers to adults. Maybe you will be more diligent in providing good dental care for your child if you understand why primary teeth are just as important as permanent teeth.
Your toddler’s first teeth are there for a reason. They allow your child to bite and chew food, speak properly, develop facial muscles and bones, prepare the mouth and gums for permanent teeth, and help direct the adult teeth into the correct positions. If you allow tooth decay to damage the tooth structure, cavities will eventually form and ongoing dental problems are in your child’s future.
Tooth decay occurs when food remains on the teeth after eating or drinking. Bacteria in the mouth attacks food particles and creates acid, which eats away at the teeth and ultimately can form holes in the teeth. Damage to your toddler’s teeth will cause your child pain, can lead to infection, and even impact their growth. Severe tooth decay can affect your toddler’s jaw development and speech. Other consequences may include higher risk of decay in permanent teeth, pain, complex and costly treatment, not to mention harming your child’s view of going to the dentist for the rest of their life.
There are simple ways to care for your child’s teeth and avoid decay. Clean your child’s mouth regularly, at first by wiping the gums with a soft clean cloth, and then by brushing the teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush as your child grows. Teach your toddler the importance of dental hygiene, and be a role model for it yourself. Also, help your child make healthy foods and drink choices. Avoid items high in sugar, and have your toddler drink water especially after consuming sugary snacks. Taking good care of your child’s teeth is not a guarantee that no dental problems will ever occur, but it’s the best way to avoid them and to teach your child good habits to carry throughout life.