As I was brushing my four year old’s teeth, my mom who was visiting from out of state let me know that she had never brushed my teeth when I was that age. Surprise, surprise! I now have a mouth ridden with large cavity fillings and crowns–the remnants from a childhood of poor oral hygiene.

It’s a generational shift for the better and I see this with other parents who bring in their children for consultations. The education behind proper oral hygiene is there and they are now passing it on to their kids.

There is the common misconception that there is no need to take care of baby teeth as they “just fall out.” However, did you know that baby teeth actually serve multiple functions other than chewing?

Teeth in the primary or permanent dentition all serve three general purposes: smiling, chewing, and speaking. Baby teeth are also important because they are nature’s best space maintainers.

Baby teeth are meant to last until they are no longer needed. Their roots get taken away as the adult teeth located directly under start erupting. However, if a baby tooth falls out early because of either decay or another reason, we lose that space. Teeth like to drift into gaps, meaning that the permanent tooth under may be completely blocked out.

This is where our orthodontic office in Irvine has to come in with interceptive treatment and open space for the permanent teeth to prevent extractions or surgeries in the future. This is why it is important to maintain healthy baby teeth for as long as possible.

Taking care of baby teeth is also an important step in better oral hygiene skills in the future. It is essential to teach children at an early age the importance of brushing, flossing, and using a mouth rinse to keep those cute little teeth white and clean. This will hopefully lead to a lifetime of great oral hygiene.