One of the most common misconceptions about milk teeth is that they are irrelevant to the child’s future oral health.
Primary teeth or what we normally say milk teeth, begin to appear around six months and can remain until a child is 13 or 14. Even though they will eventually be replaced by the permanent adult teeth, milk teeth are very important and should be well looked after. Milk teeth help children eat well, speak clearly and allow permanent teeth to grow in properly.
Thee major functions of milk teeth are described below:
*Speech production and development – Learning to speak clearly is crucial for cognitive, social, and emotional development. The proper positioning of milk teeth facilitates correct syllable pronunciation and prevents the tongue from straying during speech formation.
*Eating and nutrition – Children with malformed or severely decayed milk teeth are more likely to experience dietary deficiencies, and to be underweight. Proper chewing motions are acquired over time and with extensive practice. Healthy milk teeth promote good chewing habits and facilitate nutritious eating.
*Self-confidence – Even very young children can be quick to point out ugly teeth and crooked smiles. Taking good care of milk teeth can make social interactions more pleasant, reduce the risk of bad breath, and promote confident smiles and positive social interactions.
*Straighter smiles – One of the major functions of primary teeth is to hold an appropriate amount of space for developing adult teeth. In addition, these spacers facilitate the proper alignment of adult teeth and also promote jaw development. Left untreated, missing primary teeth cause the remaining teeth to “shift” and fill spaces improperly. For this reason, dentists often recommend space-maintaining devices.
*Excellent oral health – Badly decayed primary teeth can promote the onset of childhood periodontal disease. As a result of this condition, oral bacteria invade and erode gums, ligaments, and eventually bone. If left untreated, primary teeth can drop out completely – causing health and spacing problems for emerging permanent teeth. To avoid periodontal disease, children should practice an adult-guided oral care routine each day, and infant gums should be rubbed gently with a clean, damp cloth after meals.