Can baby tooth decay affect adult teeth?

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Yes, it can. A lot of parents underestimate or misunderstand the importance of having healthy baby teeth because children have a set of spares ready to replace them if they get damaged. And at the end of the day, baby teeth are lost eventually. However, tooth decay, cavities and premature loss of baby (or primary) teeth can affect the development of adult (or permanent teeth) in a number of ways.

  • Oral infection

    If a child has a baby tooth abscess, not only can they experience symptoms such as swollen gums and throbbing pain, but also the infection can spread to and affect developing adult teeth in the gums. Oral infections are also very risky for young children, and can also result in potentially traumatic tooth extractions.

  • Baby tooth decay spreads to permanent teeth

    If baby teeth are decayed, the decay can spread to adjacent teeth whether they are baby or adult teeth – keeping in mind that children have a mix of both until the age of 12.

  • Crowded teeth

    Baby teeth act as placeholders for emerging adult teeth. They will hold the space until just before the adult teeth are ready to erupt. However, if a baby tooth is lost prematurely, the adjacent teeth may shift into this space. When the proper adult tooth for that space finally erupts, it will be forced into a position in front of or behind the teeth that have taken its place. This may result in asymmetric growth, crowded teeth and the need for braces.

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To prevent crowding after the premature loss of a baby tooth, a tooth retainer can be attached to the tooth next to the space by your family dentist. This retainer keeps the space open and prevents adjacent teeth from drifting into it, until the proper adult tooth is ready to erupt. Retainers can also prevent the tooth opposite the gap from extruding out of the gums.

Take care of your child’s oral health!

It’s important to teach your young child good oral health habits. The benefits can include a lifetime of good oral health – without the oral health complications of tooth decay, infections and extractions.

Don’t forget to take your child in for their 6 monthly dental check-up. It’s FREE if your family is eligible for the Child Dental Benefits Schedule (CDBS)! To find out more, call our friendly reception on (07) 3343 8226 at Everyday Smile Dental Practice.

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