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7 July 2020

Looking after childrens teeth!

Why is it important to look after children’s teeth?

Establishing good habits

Establishing and encouraging a good attitude toward dental health at a young age is so important. As parents, we will always want what is best for our children; encouraging children to visit the dentist regularly and follow preventative advice is one way.

Children who have had good habits encouraged at a young age are more likely to continue those habits during adult life.
So, if your children are in the habit of neglecting their teeth or they do not understand the importance of their teeth, then they are likely to carry on with this attitude later in life and hence experience more problems.

Importance of baby teeth

Because baby teeth eventually fall out, sometimes the importance of maintenance is forgotten.

Baby teeth are similar to adult teeth in that they have two main layers – enamel and dentine. The enamel is the really tough substance that protects the tooth; then you get the inside softer layer which is called dentine.

The dentine is nowhere near as strong, and as soon as decay reaches that layer, it spreads quickly. Enamel can be up to 2mm thick in an adult tooth; however, due to the size difference between adult and baby teeth, the enamel is only about 0.5 – 1mm thick in baby teeth. Not only that, but as the dentine later is thinner too, the distance to the nerve (pulp) is also much shorter.

This means the bacteria advance to the nerve much quicker (as it is a shorter path), and as soon as they reach the nerve, it has the ability to cause severe pain and infection. Therefore, baby teeth are more susceptible to decay and infection. One of the essential roles of baby teeth is to encourage the adult, permanent teeth to erupt in their proper positions. They act as spacers until the permanent teeth are ready to erupt.

Baby teeth hold the space in the jaws required for the correct development of permanent teeth. Normally, under healthy, accident-free conditions, a baby tooth will remain in your child’s mouth until the permanent tooth underneath is almost through the gum surface.

Diet & Decay

Diet has a big impact on tooth decay; a high sugar intake increases the development of tooth decay. Tooth decay left untreated can cause pain, discomfort and infection.

A child’s diet will change subconsciously, and they will struggle to tell you it is because of dental pain. This may lead to poorer growth and possible malnutrition. It also goes without saying that if a child is not eating well, this can have wider implications on sleep, schooling, and health.

A localised dental infection of a baby tooth can directly impact the succeeding permanent adult tooth. This can lead to weaker, discoloured, and cosmetic alterations in permanent teeth.

The wider impact on your life

Poor dental health not only affects children’s health but also affects parent’s life too. Children suffering from dental pain have to have time off school, along with parents having to take days off from work.

Knighton Dental have treated a lot of junior patients with preventable dental problems, and there seems to be a common conception that baby teeth do not need as much care and attention as adult teeth – as they will eventually fall out and be replaced with adult teeth. As we have seen, there are lots of hidden complications to poor dental health in children.

Many problems in baby teeth have a knock-on effect on adult teeth, so it is best to develop good habits from the moment that magical first tooth appears!

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