The good condition of children’s teeth contributes decisively to the health of permanent teeth, and the opinion that we do not need to take care of baby teeth because they will be replaced, is completely wrong.
Children dentition start to form already in the first weeks of pregnancy and emerge when babies are 5 to 8 months old. It consists of 20 teeth and is completed at the age of 2 – 2 ½ years. This is followed by the permanent dentition, which consists of 32 teeth, with the first permanent tooth appearing in the oral cavity during the 6th year and completing at the age of 18. Of course, the time of eruption of permanent teeth sometimes varies and is an important parameter for the application of orthodontic and other therapeutic interventions.
During childhood, teething problems can be caused by a broken or cracked tooth or by dental decay, which is the most common infectious disease of children. This is caused by the microbes found in dental plaque and leads to their gradual destruction, dissolving the calcium on their surface.
Premature loss of a child tooth due to trauma or caries can lead to significant orthodontic problems in the future. Apoptosis of a young tooth before the eruption of the corresponding permanent one should be followed by special retention of space through a mechanism that is applied by the orthodontist, in order to avoid ectopic eruption, the inclusion of the erupting permanent tooth and the movement of the adjacent teeth. Therefore, during childhood, if parents notice a change in a tooth, its colour, or the existence of a hole in it, they should contact the dentist as soon as possible.
Problems in baby teeth are treated therapeutically in the same way as permanent teeth: they must be cleaned and filled and if the damage is advanced, endodontic treatment – polphotomy should be applied. Only in the case of extensive damage to a child’s tooth do we proceed with its extraction as well as the maintenance of the space created, until the eruption of the permanent tooth.
The avoidance of the above therapeutic actions is ensured by preventing tooth decay alterations. The visit to the pediatric dentist every 6 months ensures the early identification of the damage caused by caries and by applying the appropriate treatment, the problems of the baby teeth are avoided.
Also, teeth cleaning should begin in infancy by using a clean wet gauze on the baby’s gums after meals. The first children’s teeth are cleaned with a baby toothbrush without toothpaste, while after the age of two a toothpaste with a low fluoride content (500 ppmF) can be used. Later we brush children’s teeth with age-appropriate toothpastes and toothbrushes, use fluoride solution, an interdental brush and dental floss.
The care and maintenance of children’s teeth contribute to:
- In the healthy development of the jaws and therefore in the aesthetics of the face.
- In the correct function of chewing.
- In the correct articulation of speech.
- In the correct eruption of the next permanent teeth.