Along with keeping the Tooth Fairy in business, baby teeth (also known as primary teeth or milk teeth) are temporary teeth responsible for paving the way for a child’s permanent teeth.
Developing the dental hygiene habits necessary to keep baby teeth healthy is the first step towards a lifetime of good dental hygiene and happy teeth. That’s why we’ve gathered a list of the top baby teeth myths that every parent should know.
Myth #1: Baby teeth aren’t really that important. I mean, they’re just going to fall out, right?
Not exactly. Even though they are destined to fall out, all 20 of a child’s baby teeth serve as placeholders for their permanent counterparts. The baby teeth help maintain the structure of a growing mouth while also acting as guides for permanent teeth. Losing baby teeth too soon can lead to overcrowding and other issues when a child’s permanent teeth start to come in.
Myth #2: Cavities in baby teeth aren’t a big deal.
Falling into the same category as Myth #1, parents have a tendency to dismiss cavities in baby teeth. Again, aren’t the baby teeth – cavities and all – just going to fall out? While this is still true, the reality is that cavities in baby teeth can cause as many problems and as much damage as they do in adult teeth.
Not only can cavities in baby teeth lead to pain and discomfort for the child, but if left untreated they have the potential to damage the underlying permanent tooth, abscess, and cause a larger, systemic infection.
Myth #3: Baby teeth don’t need to be brushed as well as permanent teeth.
Building off of the truth about Myth #2, the easiest way to ensure that your child’s baby teeth years are healthy and cavity free is to brush (and floss!) your child’s teeth regularly. As soon as your child’s first teeth begin to appear, it’s time to start brushing regularly (it’s time to floss as soon as teeth start to touch).
Myth #4: My child is old enough to brush their teeth by themselves.
Not necessarily. While your child may be convinced that they’re ready to do it all by themselves, they may not be there just yet. Most pediatric dentists and dental associations suggest that until a child is coordinated enough complete tasks like tying their shoes or writing in cursive (which usually happens around age 6) parents should still help with brushing and flossing. Even after a child has reached these milestones, parents should supervise and make sure all those hard to reach places are getting clean.
Myth #5: My child doesn’t need to see a pediatric dentist until they start school.
Our last common misconception, Myth #5, simply isn’t true. Fact of the matter is, as soon as an infant’s first teeth start to appear, it’s time to make an appointment with your local pediatric dentist.
Many parents mistakenly believe that baby teeth are less important than permanent teeth because they are just going to “fall out anyway”. But baby teeth serve a very important purpose as place-holders in growing mouths during early years of development. They help maintain the proper structure of the mouth in providing a guide for permanent teeth to move in behind them when the time comes. A baby tooth lost too early can lead to crowding of adult teeth, for example.
Do you have questions about your baby’s teeth? Don’t hesitate to ask! We would love to talk to you about any questions or concerns you might have!