Many parents mistakenly think that when a toddler prematurely loses a primary tooth that it’s no big deal. After all, a permanent tooth will eventually fill the spot, and so long as that tooth isn’t damaged it shouldn’t impact their toddler’s oral health. However, that is a fallacy, as any family dentist can tell you.  The early loss of primary teeth can impact a toddler’s oral health for years to come. Therefore, it’s important that toddlers receive regular dental care in Aliso Viejo to head off potential problems that could endanger primary teeth.

A range of issues including degenerative enamel disorders, injuries that cause damage to teeth, and decay (cavities), which is a result of drinking sugary drinks from a bottle or allowing a baby to drink from a bottle when lying down, can all endanger the health of primary teeth.  It is very important to make sure that your child retains primary teeth until they are ready to come out naturally, as doing so will provide your toddler with the foundation for a lifetime of excellent oral health. Keep reading to learn more about why dentists don’t want to see toddlers lose their primary teeth early.

Maintains Spacing

Even though primary teeth will all fall out to make way for permanent teeth, it’s still important for those primary teeth to remain in place to set proper spacing for future permanent teeth. Also, primary teeth play a role in ensuring that permanent teeth come in straight, which makes it even more important that toddlers retain their baby teeth until they come out on their own. It can also disrupt the relationship between canines and molars, which will eventually lead to a future need for braces or aligners. When a primary tooth is lost early, the teeth on either side can creep towards the gap, which will impact the future alignment of permanent teeth.

Impacts Tooth Eruption Timing

The dental arch is built as a complex system that involves perfect timing, and when toddlers lose teeth prematurely, it can disrupt that choreography. A lost primary tooth can result in premature eruption or delayed eruptions of permanent teeth. In either case, that change in the timing can impact the entire dental arch, creating additional alignment issues and disrupting natural spacing. Also, when a primary tooth is lost, the tooth directly above or below the gap is more likely to over-erupt, which will leave it protruding further than necessary and causing future bite problems.

Leads to Abnormal Muscle Activity

Another adverse effect of prematurely lost primary teeth is that it can lead to the development of abnormal muscle activity in the mouth, as well as other habits that can disrupt the future development of the child’s permanent teeth. For example, children who lose primary teeth early are more likely to adopt behaviors such as tongue thrusting. Tongue thrusting is the act of thrusting the top of the tongue against the lips to seal the mouth while swallowing. The behavior exerts pressure on the front teeth much like digit sucking, which can push the front teeth out of alignment and cause them to protrude progressively farther forward. That begins a cascade of spacing and alignment issues which will ultimately need to be corrected.

toddlers brushing teeth; healthy mouth

Causes Speech Defects

When a toddler loses a primary tooth prematurely, it can happen at a time that causes disruption to the child’s developing speech abilities. In the short term, a lost tooth can obviously impact proper speech. But since toddlers are only beginning to learn to speak properly, these disruptions can cause speech problems that become ingrained and persist long after the lost tooth has been replaced. Also, because of the problems that a lost tooth can create in terms of alignment and bite, speech problems can be further compounded.

While many parents believe that there’s no cause for concern when a toddler loses a primary tooth before it’s time, dentists understand that preserving primary teeth until they come out naturally is critical. To learn more about the ways that lost primary teeth can have long-term impacts on the oral health of toddlers, contact Turner Dental Care at (949) 770-3294.