Hold onto those baby teeth for as long as you can
Dr Darryl Marsh writes… In this blog entry I want to continue to focus on dental issues for children, and talk about why this is an important issue when these teeth are just going to fall out eventually.
On the surface it may seem like a waste of time and effort to keep baby teeth when they are going to fall out. And certainly no young child wants to have a filling when they could get away without it. Nor does any parent want to see their child suffer from a toothache or other dental pain.
For some baby teeth this thinking is valid, but in reality all baby teeth are not of equal importance. While mum and dad may think the front teeth are the most important teeth in their child’s mouth, to a dentist the very back baby teeth are the critical ones to keep.
The reason for this is not because we dentists don’t care about children having a beautiful smile (in fact, I love kids smiles); it’s more that we have in mind the longer-term good of the child.
One of the most frustrating and difficult clinical situations is when a child loses their last deciduous (baby) molar tooth. These are the teeth that hold the adult molar (that comes in when they are 6-7 years old), in position so that all subsequent adult teeth erupt within their proper place.
When these baby molars are lost, the adult 6-year molars drift forwards and cause the adult premolar teeth (which normally erupt between the age of 10 to 12) to become impacted under them.
This can cause major complications, such as the damage and loss of adult teeth, or the adult teeth not meshing together properly.
The result is often poor chewing ability and excessive wear of the adult teeth. And once the teeth are impacted, the surgery to remove them can be tricky, to say the least. A most unfortunate and expensive consequence of losing ‘just a baby tooth’.
Of course there are ways to prevent this from happening and in my next blog post I will give some advice to parents in caring for their children’s precious teeth.