Why baby teeth are important!

You may wonder why pediatric dentists recommend dental restorations on baby teeth. Aren’t they just going to fall out anyways?  Do they really need to be filled? While this is true, they serve many important functions prior to being lost.

Besides contributing to an esthetic appearance and self-esteem, they are important for:

  • Maintaining space in the jaw for the permanent teeth while guiding them into the proper position
  • Allow for proper eating and chewing
  • Permit normal development of the jaw bones and muscle
  • Affect speech development
  • Affect school performance

Though both primary teeth and permanent teeth have similar purposes, you may notice differences between your teeth and your child’s teeth, including the following.

  • Number: A full set of primary teeth includes 20 teeth, whereas adults have 32 permanent teeth. This difference accounts for the size of a child’s mouth versus that of an adult.
  • Enamel: Primary teeth have a thinner coat of enamel compared to permanent teeth. Enamel helps protect the surface from decay, and the thin layer on a baby tooth can make it easier to get cavities.
  • Hardness: Primary teeth are softer than permanent teeth, which makes them more susceptible to wear from grinding or acidic foods.
  • Color: Primaryteeth are naturally whiter than permanent teeth. This phenomenon is normal, and you may only notice it when your child has a mix of baby and permanent teeth at the same time.

Because of these differences, your baby’s oral care needs will differ from yours. Be sure to use gentle toothbrushes and the appropriate amount of toothpaste for your child’s age. Many toothbrush packages indicate what age range the brush is for, and you can use these numbers to pick an applicable product. As soon as your baby has teeth, a traditional nylon bristle toothbrush will work best. Whereas silicone brushes often feel better on gums prior to any teeth actually growing in.

Many primary teeth are not lost until the age of 12. For this reason, keeping them healthy and treating dental decay when present is recommended! Primary teeth play a very important role in dental health!



Dr. Easte Warnick DDS

Dr. Easte Warnick received a degree in Geology from the University of Nevada Las Vegas in 2001. After working as a geologist for Los Alamos National Laboratory and Bechtel SAIC, she returned to school and completed dental training at the University of the Pacific Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in 2012.

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