Primary teeth, also known under the names “baby teeth” and “deciduous teeth”, are the very first set of teeth that develop in any child’s mouth. The initial development process actually begins inside the Mother’s womb around the second trimester. However, a child’s primary teeth will not break the gum line until around six months to one year after birth.
Children will typically have a fully functional set of teeth by the time they reach kindergarten, or 5-7 years old. Sometimes children have a set of 20 teeth by the time they reach the age of 3. While the front four teeth last until 6-7 years of age, the back teeth (cuspids and molars) aren’t replaced until age 10-13.
The American Dental Association (ADA) recommends that infants receive an orthodontic evaluation at least once by the time they reach the age of 7. An orthodontic checkup is necessary in preventing and correcting orthodontic problems.
What Are Primary Teeth Important For?
Primary teeth, or baby teeth, do have a purpose/function and are important for:
Proper chewing and eating – children who experience decayed primary teeth are more likely to experience deficiencies and malnourishment. Primary teeth that are healthy help facilitate better chewing habits with practice.
Speech development – primary teeth are an integral part of a child’s development of speech – which is important for a child’s cognitive development as well. Primary teeth help a child enunciate certain syllables and keeps the tongue from interfering.
Establishing a smile – primary teeth provide space for the permanent teeth and help guide them into the correct position for a straighter smile.
Solid Structure - primary teeth aid in the normal development of jaw bones and muscles, providing a solid foundation for the development of your mouth.
Yes, primary teeth will eventually fall out of your child’s mouth but this doesn’t mean you should not care for your children’s teeth before this event happens. It is very important to maintain the health of primary teeth. Neglected cavities can and frequently do lead to problems which affect developing permanent teeth. Severely decayed teeth could put your child at risk for early periodontal disease.