Why are baby teeth (or “primary” teeth) so important?

Healthy primary teeth are important for many reasons:

  • They facilitate proper chewing, enabling good nutrition. Research shows that children with numerous cavities are often underweight because eating begins to hurt. As a result, they limit food choices, disrupting proper nutrition.
  • We are often asked, “Why put fillings in baby teeth when they will fall out anyway?” Unfortunately, neglected cavities create problems that affect the development of permanent teeth. Neglected cavities progress to the core of the tooth and eat away at the nerve. The tooth becomes painful and the nerve becomes inflamed, eventually dying. This creates an abscess that often results in the loss of the tooth and serious damage to the permanent tooth growing below. Some severe cases require emergency hospitalization.
  • Children learn to talk using their primary dentition. Research shows that, because most speech skills are already formed by the age of seven, children who lose their primary front teeth too early often need speech therapy.
  • Brown or missing teeth often affect the development of self-esteem. A beautiful smile enhances self confidence regardless of age.