Importance of milk teeth

We all know God has its plans & perfect timing for each thing. He has given two sets of teeth to mankind – Permanent teeth and deciduous or milk teeth. Both these sets of teeth have a particular sequence of eruption i.e their appearance in the oral cavity. They are an integral part of our digestive system and overall our body. They are important for overall growth & development.

“ Oh doctor, these are just milk teeth & they are going to shed… why to save them?” this is the most common question asked by parents to a dentist/ pedodontist. Yes, milk teeth are to going to be shed within a particular period of time and will be replaced by permanent teeth.

Are they important & need to save?

Let’s first see the sequence of eruption of deciduous teeth and permanent teeth. This is fundamental basic behind providing two sets of teeth & a particular range of time is allotted for each milk tooth to erupt in oral cavity & shed or exfoliate soon they get replaced by their successor or permanent teeth at a speculated time. At the age of 6 to 7 months, the first milk tooth erupts in the oral cavity which is the lower incisor. There are 20 milk teeth that can be seen completely erupted in the oral cavity at the age of 3 years. The functioning period of milk teeth is generally 6 years.

During this period roots of milk teeth get resorbed & milk teeth share to become loose and mobile. They exfoliate on their own & are replaced soon by permanent teeth. There are 32 permanent teeth. Out of which 20 teeth are replaced by shedding of deciduous teeth while 12 teeth which are 1st, 2nd, 3rd molars erupt directly through gums without any deciduous tooth. At age of 6 years, 1st permanent molar erupts without losing or shedding any milk tooth. At the age of 12-13 years, all permanent teeth except 3rd molars erupt in the oral cavity.

Childhood is a period of tremendous development, both physical & psychological. It is proved that up to the age of 6 years most of the neurological development of a child takes place and it is the golden period of life during which all good and bad habits get incorporated into a child knowingly or unknowingly. Exactly this is period of milk teeth…. During this period various things such as growth & development of jaws, speech, eating habits, mastication, deglutition( swallowing ) take place. Milk teeth play a crucial role during all these important processes. So it is mandatory to save and preserve milk teeth in a healthy condition up to their natural exfoliation.

All Parents have the urge to provide the best things to their beloved children including their diet. A variety of food is required to provide energy and nutrition to a growing child. This food has to be properly chewed by the child to get the best nutrition out of it. This is the main function of milk teeth. i.e chewing of food or called mastication. If there is pain and discomfort in milk teeth which may be due to caries, trauma, then the child will not be able to chew properly or will prefer to have soft food or even avoid eating at all. This will lead to improper diet and nutrition affecting growth and development of child making then weak and anemic so even if parents provide best and healthy nutritious food & his milk teeth are not in healthy condition…. Then it will in vain….!!

The pleasant smile of the child always attracts everyone and is appreciated by all. This innocent smile is a gift of milk teeth having proper spacing and alignment in the small jaw of the child. Well maintained, properly cleaned milk teeth ass a shed of beauty to the child. It imparts a confident psychological satisfaction to the child while mixing in society, relatives, and their friends. Destruction of anterior/front teeth by nursing bottle / rampant carries or their loss due to some trauma leads to anesthetic appearance, improper speech.

As age advances, jaws grow in size and muscle mass increases & the development of temporomandibular joint takes place. Now small milk teeth are not suitable in big jaws. Then these small milk teeth are replaced with bigger permanent teeth. thus milk teeth act as a space maintainer for their permanent successor. They act as a foundation pillar over which permanent teeth will be able to function properly throughout life.

We can now know how much important the milk teeth are. Premature loss of milk teeth leads to anesthetic appearance, improper speech, growth & development of jaws, muscles, loss of space causing crowding, and other problems in permanent teeth. So it is of utmost importance to save milk teeth. We should always remember “ A happy, healthy smile and oral health of an adult is a gift of milk teeth”.

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About Author:

Dr.Rohit Joshi

Dr. Rohit Joshi is a renowned Dentist in Pune and has more than 7 years of experience in the field of dentistry. He is Mastered in conservative dentistry and endodontics. He also specializes in single-visit painless root canal treatment and aesthetic dentistry. He is always contributing his knowledge of dentistry through his blog. Learn More about Dr. Rohit Joshi.