Why Are Primary Teeth Important?

Primary teeth, also known as “baby teeth” or “deciduous teeth,” begin to develop beneath the gums during the second trimester of pregnancy.  Teeth begin to emerge above the gums approximately six months to one year after birth.  Typically, preschool children have a complete set of 20 baby teeth – including four molars on each arch.

One of the most common misconceptions about primary teeth is that they are irrelevant to the child’s future oral health.  However, their importance is emphasized by the American Dental Association (ADA), which urges parents to schedule a “baby checkup” with a pediatric dentist within six months of the first tooth emerges.

What are the functions of primary teeth?

Primary teeth can be painful to acquire.  To soothe tender gums, biting on chewing rings, wet gauze pads, and clean fingers can be helpful.  Though most three-year-old children have a complete set of primary teeth, eruption happens gradually – usually starting at the front of the mouth.

The major functions of primary teeth are described below:

Speech production and development – Learning to speak clearly is crucial for cognitive, social, and emotional development.  The proper positioning of primary teeth facilitates correct syllable pronunciation and prevents the tongue from straying during speech formation.

Eating and nutrition – Children with malformed or severely decayed primary teeth are more likely to experience dietary deficiencies, malnourishment, and to be underweight.  Proper chewing motions are acquired over time and with extensive practice.  Healthy primary teeth promote good chewing habits and facilitate nutritious eating.

Self-confidence – Even very young children can be quick to point out ugly teeth and crooked smiles.  Taking good care of primary teeth can make social interactions more pleasant, reduce the risk of bad breath, and promote confident smiles and positive social interactions.

Straighter smiles – One of the major functions of primary teeth is to hold an appropriate amount of space for developing adult teeth.  In addition, these spacers facilitate the proper alignment of adult teeth and also promote jaw development.  Left untreated, missing primary teeth cause the remaining teeth to “shift” and fill spaces improperly.  For this reason, pediatric dentists often recommend space-maintaining devices.

Excellent oral health – Badly decayed primary teeth can promote the onset of childhood periodontal disease.  As a result of this condition, oral bacteria invade and erode gums, ligaments, and eventually bone.  If left untreated, primary teeth can drop out completely – causing health and spacing problems for emerging permanent teeth.  To avoid periodontal disease, children should practice an adult-guided oral care routine each day, and infant gums should be rubbed gently with a clean, damp cloth after meals.

If you have questions or concerns about primary teeth, please contact your pediatric dentist.

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This is by far the finest practice I have ever been to. The Staff and Doctors are so caring, empathetic and efficient, making going to the Dentist a pleasant experience. I LOVE THIS PRACTICE! Dr. Wetherbee and Dr. Ahmed and the front desk staff, especially Kelley, Katie and Joan are all fantastic! I refer every friend I have to this practice.

Jayne Shamon Carver, MA

Being nervous about going to the Dentist, as I always have been, along with seeing a new Dentist for the first time in five years, I was not sure what to expect when arriving at Cranberry Dental Associates, today. My experience was nothing less than perfect. The front desk ladies were amazingly friendly and relaxed. Ashley, the Dental Assistant, was attentive and intelligent. Dr Ahmed was OUTSTANDING! I am glad I decided to come here!

Susannah Murphy Plymouth, MA

I was away at college and in the middle of the night experienced severe pain from an abscessed tooth and called our family's dental office emergency number. Unbelievably someone responded, immediately discussed my problem over the phone with me and arranged for me to be treated first thing in the morning and taken out of pain. Ultimately, I was referred to a specialist for root canal treatment. When I became nervous and uncomfortable with the endodontist, the doctor at Cranberry Dental interceded and completed the treatment himself. I am amazed at how responsive, compassionate and skillful they are and consider myself fortunate to have found Cranberry Dental Associates.

Nicole Tsina, Carver, MA

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Contact Us.We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form.

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We encourage you to contact us with any questions or comments you may have. Please call our office or use the quick contact form below.
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