February is the official National Children's Dental Health Month, as recognized by the ADA. Thousand Oaks Family Dentistry will be rolling out weekly topics relating to pediatric dentistry all month long. Make sure to check back regularly to catch all the great information.
One of the most miraculous features of the human body is our ability to develop two full sets of teeth. Baby teeth (also known as "deciduous" or "primary" teeth) begin developing before birth and are completely shed by about 12 years of age. During this time, they serve a number of developmental and nutritional purposes.
For starters, baby teeth are usually whiter and more widely spaced than adult teeth. They also have relatively larger nerve spaces and thinner enamel, meaning the likelihood of a cavity going to the tooth nerve is much higher. There are also no baby premolars- just incisors, canines and molars.
In their most basic form, primary teeth allow a child to properly chew and break down food for digestion. They also act as guides to save space and allow the permanent teeth to grow in. This is one of the guiding principles of phase one orthodontics, or braces on primary teeth. It is also believed that the deciduous teeth play an important role in the development of facial bones. Finally, children's teeth are crucial in learning phonetics and vocalizing specific sounds.
WIth all this in mind, you can see how losing baby teeth early can have a significant impact on childhood development. Premature toothlessness in children is often associated with pain, problems eating, lower self esteem and greater orthodontic complications later in life. The best way to prevent these problems is regular dental examinations coupled with good oral hygiene at home. Positive parental attitudes towards dentistry can go a long way in keeping children's teeth healthy and well protected. If you would like to know more about baby teeth, braces or dental exams for kids, please give our office a call!