Primary teeth or temporary teeth or baby teeth, gives shape to your child’s face, and helps guide permanent teeth into the right position.
Children’s primary teeth play a very important role in dental development. They are important as they not only provide space for permanent teeth, but they are also essential for chewing, biting, for appearance and are crucial for early speech development.
Primary teeth have a thinner outer covering (enamel) than permanent teeth. This puts them at risk for early childhood tooth decay, which can begin even before the tooth appears. Decay is caused by bacteria.
What happens if the child’s baby teeth are not taken care of?
Baby teeth can get decay or cavities just like adult teeth. In addition to the pain caused by a cavity, young children can develop dental infections also. Tooth decay is a serious infection that can be transmissible, it can spread quickly and lead to infection or abscess.
If a tooth becomes infected and needs to be pulled out, the dentist will recommend inserting a space
maintainer appliance to preserve the space for the permanent tooth otherwise other teeth may drift causing difficult to treat orthodontic cases like crowding.
Why put a space maintainer for the early extracted tooth?
The space maintainer is a small metal device that encircles the tooth and the space to be saved. It somewhat holds the space until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, stopping the other from tipping of drifting into the empty space.
If teeth on either side of the open space encroach upon the empty space, there may not be room for the permanent tooth. The new permanent tooth may erupt out of its proper position and can affect positioning of their teeth. If teeth become crowded and out of alignment with each other, then the teeth are maloccluded. Maloccluded permanent teeth are difficult to clean, have greater chances of becoming decayed, and later might require orthodontic treatment.
Early childhood tooth decay can affect child’s overall health and can cause pain, making it hard for your child to sleep, eat or speak. It can also affect the child’s ability to concentrate and learn.
Children who develop dental decay at an early age are more likely to suffer from it throughout childhood. It is therefore important to develop good oral hygiene early on!
About The Writer
DR. JOYCELYN FRANCES ESGUERRA, Dentist
Dr. is the dental and oral healthcare expert of Wyeth Nutrition parenTeam. Having run a private clinic for more than 20 years now, Dr. Joycelyn Esguerra has developed an expertise in orthodontics, TMJ orthopedics, cosmetic dentistry, and biological dentistry. As a dentist, her work has included educating patients on oral care, assessing teeth and diagnosing patients' dental conditions, evaluating treatment options and providing treatment plans to patients, and carrying out clinical treatments such as restoring teeth affected by decay and treating gum disease.
Dr. Esguerra received her degree of Doctor of Dental of Medicine from the College of Dentistry at the University of the East in Manila. She also completed a 6-month long comprehensive preceptorship program on Functional Jaw Orthopedics and TMJ Dentistry at the TMJ Integrative Dentistry Academy of the Philippines.
An active member of the medical community, she has served the Mandaluyong City Dental Chapter in various roles, including President, Executive Vice President, and Board of Director. Dr. Esguerra is also part of the Philippine Dental Association (PDA) and the TMJ Integrative Academy of the Philippines.
The views and opinions expressed by the writer are his/her own, and does not state or reflect those of Wyeth Nutrition and its principals.