Did you know that sharks never run out of teeth? If they lose one tooth, another tooth spins forward from the rows and rows of back-up teeth. Pretty cool huh? You know what would be even cooler? If we humans had that ability!! The need for dentists would be obliterated if that happened. Got a cavity? No problem. Abscess? No worries! Gum issues? Duh!! Imagine a world where people actually liked dentists!! Mind blown!
As nature would have it, that’s not the case. We humans have only two sets of teeth, primary (baby teeth) teeth- there will be 20 of them and a permanent set with 32 possible teeth. In a perfect world, the primary teeth would erupt from ages 6 months to 3 years and the permanent would start taking their place from 6 years onwards. The permanent teeth would slide smoothly into the space maintained by these primary teeth and we all would have a beautiful smile with perfectly aligned teeth. But, that’s not the case. The Evolution of human beings, as a species, has resulted in a vast discrepancy between the teeth size and jaw size leading to multitude of space problems and misaligned teeth. The diet we prefer has further complicated the issue by primary teeth being victims of cavities (decay) and abscess leading to early loss of these baby teeth which in turn give rise to space discrepancy.
What? What?? What???
In simple terms, the primary teeth have an important function in the mouth, apart from helping our babies look adorable in their smiles and helping them chew food(sometimes), they help maintain the space for permanent teeth to come in a natural order in a pre-determined space. As the permanent teeth begin to come in, the roots of the primary start dissolving (resorbing), making way to accommodate the permanent teeth. They also direct the permanent tooth to its natural position in the mouth. But, due to the afore mentioned jaw size and tooth size discrepancy, sometimes these permanent teeth twist around to a path of least resistance and erupt either in front or behind a tooth starting a chain reaction of crowding and misaligned teeth.
This is where the adage ‘stitch in time saves nine’ comes into effect. Yes, baby teeth are supposed to fall out by themselves, yes, most of the times they don’t need a visit to your dentist to be pulled out, but….sometimes they do. One size does not fit all. Just because it is supposed to happen in a certain way, there is no guarantee that it will happen in that way. Just because baby teeth are going to ‘fall out’ eventually, does not mean they don’t need to be cared for or cavities filled. Proper care of primary teeth may mean either no orthodontic treatment(braces) or minimal orthodontic movement meaning less discomfort to our kids leading to better compliance and oral hygiene that leads to healthier mouth!!! Whew!! That was a long line and we can go on more and more about this domino effect.
Parents and dentists need to work together to abolish this fear factor towards dentists and dental care. Let’s start by taking our kids to the dentist as early as 1 year, not for any major treatment but just to take away the myth and fear associated with it. Let the child see the dental office as a happy place. Let the dentist ‘count teeth’ with a mirror and let the kids hold the suction straw in their mouth. Let’s make the experience fun and fear free, so if the child ever needs to have any treatment done, it becomes a natural progression.
When oral care starts young, it gets embedded into your life routine and becomes a natural order. We don’t ignore our children’s healthy child visits or yearly immunizations. So why ignore this aspect of care? After all we need our mouth and teeth to eat our food to stay healthy? Right???
If you have any questions or would like more information, please feel free to call Veera Family Dentistry at (989) 793-6731.We would be happy to discuss your child’s dental needs!