You might think that children's primary teeth are not important because they are going to fall out anyway, but when you're little, healthy teeth mean a lot.
People sometimes say “oh, they’re just baby teeth”. In fact, healthy baby teeth are important as they will pave the way for healthy adult teeth. And by helping children to take good care of their teeth, you are starting habits that will last them all their lives.
When a baby is born, the first set of teeth is already there, just under the gums. The arrival of a baby’s first tooth is always an exciting time! The front teeth usually begin to come through the gums between six and twelve months. Over the next 2 years the remaining ‘baby’ teeth will appear. By the time a child is 3 years old all 20 baby teeth will have arrived. These teeth are very important for eating, talking and smiling. They also keep spaces for and pave the way for the adult teeth.
Early neglect or loss can lead to a number of problems. Tooth decay in a young child can quickly lead to pain and infection (abscess) and, because of their young age, dental treatment can be difficult and may have to be carried out under general anaesthetic - a procedure that is not without risk.
Studies have also found that children who experienced tooth decay in their primary teeth had a greater risk of developing tooth decay in their permanent (adult) teeth. It is important for parents and carers to establish good oral habits (e.g., healthy eating, daily toothbrushing) for their children from an early age, beginning when the first tooth appears. Dietary advice for parents/ carers of young children and advice on cleaning your babys teeth and gums are a good starting point. It is also important that children be brought for their first dental check-up before all the primary teeth have erupted, ideally before age 2 years.