Baby teeth are just as important as permanent teeth and play a significant role in your child’s overall development.
Baby teeth might only be around for a short time, but they serve an important role in your child’s development. If your child has a cavity, it’s best to get it filled according to their dentist’s recommendations. Not caring for your child’s baby teeth now can affect their adult teeth and create more issues as they grow.
Here are some common issues that can occur when decay in a baby tooth is ignored:
Shifting teeth – Baby teeth hold the place for permanent teeth, and if one is lost before the adult tooth is ready to come in, other teeth may shift into its place. This can cause bite problems or a misaligned jaw resulting in pain and other issues.
Infection – Tooth decay can quickly spread to other baby teeth and even to unerupted permanent teeth that are still under the gum. If left untreated, a painful abscess can form. If the abscess is left to fester, it could develop into a more severe infection requiring antibiotics or medical treatment.
Self-esteem – Untreated decay, bad breath from untreated tooth decay, and missing teeth can affect your child’s self-esteem, too. They might be self-conscious and shy away from other children, perform poorly in school because of mouth pain, or refuse to smile because they are afraid of being made fun of.
Speech discrepancies – If your child has crooked teeth where drifting has occurred due to a missing tooth, it might alter the way they speak and learn to form words. Depending on the severity of the problem, speech therapy may be required to correct the issue.
Malnutrition and poor dietary choices – Children are notoriously picky eaters, and every calorie counts to help them grow big and strong. If a child has untreated tooth decay, eating may be painful. They may try to avoid mealtime altogether by saying they aren’t hungry, request only easy to chew foods, or try to fill up on juice and other drinks full of sugar.
The good news is all these issues can be resolved or avoided. Help your child brush their teeth for two minutes, twice a day. Set a timer and brush along with them. Show them the right way to clean their teeth. Floss with them and have them floss along with you.
Regular professional cleanings and exams can catch the smallest areas of decay so they can be fixed while they are tiny, less traumatic, and less costly to treat. A healthy diet with limited access to juice and other sugary food and drink can also help your child’s enamel grow strong. Establishing healthy choices now lays the building blocks for healthy habits that they will carry with them into adulthood.