A Prosthodontist’s View on Caring for Baby’s Teeth

Prevention Is Better Than Cure

Baby teeth are fundamentally important because they are an integral part of the growth and development of the mouth and jaws. The baby teeth are a precursor of the permanent teeth which start to appear in the mouth at about the age of 5 to 6.The permanent teeth erupt by causing the roots of the baby teeth to resorb. That is why the baby teeth become loose and it is so exciting for a young child to know that the mouse is on its way.

I see so many patients who have grown up without having the knowledge to look after the primary teeth and therefore the permanent teeth. The result is unnecessary tooth decay which needs to be treated with fillings. There is no filling in the world that will adequately restore the tooth to its original state and form. The reality is that teeth are designed to last for lifetime with proper care. The one problem that may develop is an orthodontic one in which the crooked teeth may have to be treated with definitive orthodontics. Here genetics also plays a factor.

The most important factor to emphasise to pregnant women in particular is the great advantage of breastfeeding and not the bottle. The reason for this is that the young baby’s mouth adapts to the shape and form of the mother’s breast. This close adaptation allows the muscles of the mouth to move in such a way that it enhances the normal growth and development of the jaws. This is a very important fact that most mothers don’t know about and should be greatly emphasised, certainly when the mother  is pregnant and not feeding yet. It is good to have the knowledge in anticipation.

Giving candy to a child should be a no-no. I know that this is very difficult to prevent. I see it with my grandchildren as well and they have developed cavities. The prolonged sucking of sugar sweet should be avoided. The limiting of time that the mothers exposed to sugar is important. Thus if possible after eating a sweet, the child should be encouraged to rinse with water.

Another important fact is that a young child should be watched to see that they are breathing through their nose and not the mouth. Mouth breathing is a potential problem in the growth and development of young child. An Ear Nose Throat (ENT) specialist should be consulted.

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