Children’s teeth are markedly different from the set of teeth they will have as adults. The smaller, softer deciduous teeth, also called milk teeth or baby teeth, that erupt in the first few years of a child’s life have thread-like roots. These delicate roots facilitate their eventual loss when permanent teeth grow to replace them. However, shallow roots also make early tooth loss a concern. While a tooth that will soon be lost may not need replacement, a tooth lost to a sports injury or fall may need a crown or bridgework to maintain proper tooth spacing and bite health.
Baby teeth can also get cavities, and like cavities in adult teeth, they can be painful. Cavities in baby teeth are frequently associated with corresponding decay in permanent teeth, so it is still important to keep a child’s mouth free of decay and to fill any cavities even if those teeth will eventually disappear. Children who visit the dentist at early ages are likelier to develop good brushing habits that can forestall future cavities.
Our dentists also deal with issues unique to children’s teeth. Baby bottle tooth decay is fairly common and should be addressed early. Thumb-sucking and pacifiers can affect a child’s bite. Your child’s dentist can monitor growing teeth and ensure that permanent teeth are growing in well. Brushing and flossing instructions, fluoride treatments and baby tooth removal are other tasks that may be carried out. If necessary, the dentist can also recommend an orthodontist who can correct crooked or gapped teeth soon after the permanent teeth appear.