Primary teeth, also known as milk teeth, are crucial to a child's dental health. They aid in chewing and speaking and preserve space in the jaw for permanent teeth. Even though kids shed their milk teeth throughout childhood, these teeth can affect the eruption of permanent teeth and impact one's oral health. Therefore, it's crucial to care for milk teeth to avoid dental problems in the future. Below are the common dental issues in kids that can affect permanent teeth.
Decayed Primary Teeth
Tooth decay occurs when harmful bacteria in the mouth damage the enamel, leaving it with tiny holes. Also known as caries or cavities, tooth decay in kids occurs due to:
- Poor oral hygiene: Failing to brush and floss teeth on a daily basis increases bacteria activity in the mouth. Over time, the bacteria erode the enamel and cause cavities.
- Consumption of sugary foods and drinks: Sugary foods and drinks attract oral bacteria. This increases the risk of getting cavities, especially if one doesn't brush the teeth after consuming the foods.
Decay of primary teeth can lead to premature tooth loss, especially if the affected tooth isn't treated on time. Consequently, the adjacent teeth may move into the space left behind, leaving little or no room for the permanent teeth to erupt. As a result, your child may develop crooked teeth, necessitating orthodontic treatment. Luckily, treating cavities early can avert problems with your child's permanent teeth.
Misaligned Milk Teeth
Dental misalignment can occur due to habits such as prolonged thumb sucking. Kids who stop sucking their thumbs at a young age are less likely to experience dental problems because the jaw will have enough time to correct the damage. Conversely, prolonged and vigorous thumb sucking can affect the shape of the jaw, causing misalignment of the teeth. For example, an overbite may occur, where the front teeth protrude from the jaw and mouth. If your child is over four years old and is still sucking their thumb, ask your dentist to prescribe a thumb crib to discourage the behavior.
Crowded Primary Teeth
Crowding of the milk teeth occurs due to large tooth size or a small jaw. If your child has large teeth or a small jaw, there won't be enough space for all the permanent teeth to erupt properly. This will cause dental misalignment and impaction of the wisdom teeth. However, if this problem is detected early enough, a dentist can use arch expanders and bite lockers to expand the jaw. These appliances create room for proper tooth eruption and eliminate the need for future orthodontic treatment.
Milk teeth influence a baby's future oral health and dental aesthetics. Therefore, if your child is dealing with any of the above dental issues, visit your dentist for treatment.