When a child is born, they are usually without teeth, and when they give that toothless grin it is always ever so charming. As they grow, the first set of teeth often called ‘baby teeth’ begin to appear one by one usually from around 6months of life, and may remain until about 13years of age. One by one these baby teeth are replaced by the adult teeth which are meant to remain for life.
Surrounding this teeth development are myths and misconceptions:
Myth1: Baby teeth are not important, they will just fall off anyway.
A lot of people have this mindset. A parent might have a child with a toothache but these kids are often neglected and not taken seriously until the toothache begin to wake the child up at night and the child, in turn, wakes the parents up, or until a visible swelling is seen. When these parents finally go to the Dentist with the child, and after proper examination,if for example they are told the tooth may need a root filling, they usually exclaim ‘Doc it’s just a baby tooth why not just take it out, it will fall off anyway’
Truth: While it is true that all baby teeth are temporary as they will be replaced eventually by their permanent counterparts, they are not unimportant as is thought by many people.
Coming into the mouth in the first year of life, serving as faithful sentries looking out for the arrival of the permanent teeth, they begin one by one to be dismissed and replaced by permanent teeth from around 6years of age up until 13years when they all should have been replaced, they serve very important roles.
Baby teeth are important in proper nutrition and wellness of children as they are necessary for chewing when kids are introduced to solid food. Also, these baby teeth are important in proper speech development in children. It is important to note that baby teeth serve social purposes as do adult teeth such as smiling and allowing one to look normal. Very importantly baby teeth act as a guide for proper eruption (coming into the mouth) of the adult teeth. Each baby tooth holds a space for the permanent tooth to follow and it doesn’t let go of the space until the adult teeth are ready to come in.
Baby teeth help in the proper spacing of the jaw so that the adult teeth come into their right position and the individual then have well-arranged teeth.
An infected baby tooth can spread to the adult tooth underneath. Also, early loss of baby teeth will lead to social problems like self-consciousness, low self-esteem and speech issues, and ultimately to scattered adult teeth when they come out.
Baby teeth should be cared for adequately. Proper home care(brushing and flossing), regular Dental checks and prompt fixing of any issues is paramount in caring for children’s oral health.
Myth 2: Tooth loss is a normal part of ageing
It is not uncommon to see a Senior citizen with few or no teeth. This has made a lot of people worried about ageing because they feel they will end up with no teeth in their mouths and have sunken jaws. It is the general assumption that when you become old, tooth loss is inevitable.
Truth: Although a lot of medical conditions can be associated with old age, tooth loss is not one of them!
Believe it or not, plenty of people have left his Beautiful planet of ours with all their adult teeth in their mouths
Adult teeth do not just fall out when you are ageing. There are a number of reasons for tooth loss, including gum disease, trauma, smoking, poor nutrition etc. Old age is not one of them.
Studies have shown that gum disease is the commonest cause of tooth loss. Gum disease in most instances results from not taking good care of your mouth. This can happen at any age and not limited to old age.
Yes keeping a stellar oral health becomes difficult in old age as a result of other medical conditions, for example, arthritic changes may make the fine movement of the fingers and proper toothbrushing difficult, It is however not impossible.
The best precautions for tooth loss in any age group is proper home hygiene and regular Checks.
Doing these can keep you and your teeth smiling for a Life time.
When last did you have a Dental Examination?