Deciduous teeth, or “baby teeth” as they are commonly called, erupt during the first two years of life and function in a healthy mouth until the adult, succedaneous, teeth are fully developed. During this time, they function for chewing, speech development, esthetics, and they are critical for proper growth and development of the skull and jaw. When they are lost prematurely due to decay or trauma, adequate space is not preserved for the maturing adult teeth below, so those teeth may become impacted and not erupt properly. Although premature loss of pediatric teeth may only cause minor problems like delaying the eruption of adult teeth, serious problems that require surgery to correct, like impaction, occur commonly.
The ways to repair broken or decayed baby teeth vary greatly, depending on the severity of damage, the anticipated lifetime of the tooth involved, and the clinical judgment and skills of the attending dentist. Usually, the front teeth are lost by about age seven, and then the primary molars and canines are sequentially lost until about age fourteen. Dentists usually can predict the length of time until a tooth will be exfoliated from dental x-rays.
As for the financial investment involved in restoring and saving baby teeth is often similar to the cost of restoring adult teeth with fillings, the long-term costs of premature extraction and then the related treatment for lost space, improper development, and impaction may be much greater. Dentists are usually very aware of these and other problems related to not saving baby teeth as well as the financial concerns of parents. Although there are times when taking out primary teeth before they are supposed to erupt may be appropriate, investing in their restoration is usually very wise.
Do you need to see the dentist?
If you are in the Dover, OH area and are in need of a dental visit, be sure to schedule an appointment with Dr. Huff.