We all went through it as kids and maybe you’ve now been through it with your kids, too. Our teeth start to grow in between the ages of a few months and a few years, often with a full set of teeth by age 3. But then these teeth soon start to fall out, usually from the age of 6 or 7 onward. Why does this happen? And why don’t we just keep the same teeth throughout our life? Read on to find out more about baby teeth…
What is the purpose of baby teeth?
Baby teeth, also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth, have many of the same functions as the teeth we develop as adults. Their presence helps to shape our mouths and develop the muscles around the mouth and jaw, which is essential for basic actions like chewing and talking. The teeth themselves also help us chew foods properly and contribute to speech development.
Why do baby teeth fall out?
So, if baby teeth have the same purposes as our adult teeth, why do we grow them for them to fall out a few years later. Well, they fall out in order to make way for more teeth to fit in our growing mouths. As children, we typically have 20 baby teeth, whereas a full set of adult teeth contains 32. The adult teeth are also bigger than our milk teeth.
But our smaller mouths as children don’t have enough space to accommodate these adult teeth, and we can just wait 7 years without teeth for this bigger set to grow in. So, we develop baby teeth to save the space in our mouths and gums for our adult teeth to later grow into. If we kept our baby teeth, then our mouths wouldn’t be properly filled with teeth as much is necessary to talk and chew effectively.
The importance of looking after baby teeth
Oral health and hygiene are extremely important at all stages of life. Even though those baby teeth aren’t going to stick around for long, it is still essential to clean and care for them properly. Cavities and tooth decay can still happen to baby teeth, which can cause pain and discomfort for your child and could result in more bacteria spreading to other teeth and the gums. Dental problems in childhood can also affect things like speech development.
Make sure you start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first one starts to show, and try to reduce the number of sugary drinks and snacks they consume.