Belmont pediatric dentist logo

Why Do We Have Baby Teeth?

Why Do We Have Baby Teeth

Baby teeth, also known as milk teeth or deciduous teeth, start to form in the baby’s jaw during pregnancy. By the time of birth, the front teeth have mostly developed, except for the roots. The eruption of baby teeth typically starts at around 6 months of age, with the front teeth being the first ones to come in. By the age of two and a half years, all of the baby teeth have usually emerged. The initial molar, which is a durable grinding tooth, emerges right after the last baby molar. As children grow, their baby teeth in the front are gradually replaced by permanent teeth, resulting in a full set of teeth in the mouth by around the age of 12. Additionally, it is common for adults to have their third molars, which are also referred to as wisdom teeth.

Infants and children have smaller jaws that cannot accommodate their larger permanent teeth. Baby teeth play a crucial role in the development of the mouth. They play an important role in preserving the length of the jaw and guiding the eruption pathway, which helps ensure the proper positioning of permanent teeth.

Some creatures have two sets of teeth, but not all creatures with teeth have double sets. Some animals, such as hamsters and moles, only grow one set of teeth for their entire lifespan. On the other hand, many other vertebrates, like reptiles and fishes, have the ability to continuously regenerate their teeth, which leads to teeth sizes that are relatively uniform and unspecialized.

Mammals have unique dental formations that require precise alignment for effective functioning. Each tooth has a specific function and works together with the others to improve chewing and extract nutrients from food efficiently. The efficiency of chewing is affected when neighboring teeth no longer align perfectly in shape and size due to the continuous shedding and replacement of teeth throughout one’s lifetime.

However, the development of specialized teeth comes with increased energy requirements, leading to humans having a single set of teeth throughout both developmental stages and their entire adult life.


What is the Purpose of Having Baby Teeth?

Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, play important roles in the growth and development of a child, including:

  • Helping your baby learn to bite, smile, and communicate through speech.
  • Ensuring sufficient space in your child’s mouth for the emerging permanent teeth below the gumline.
  • Promotes the healthy development of your baby’s facial and jaw muscles through a nourishing chewing experience.

Primary teeth are most notably known for eating solid foods and begin to speak. Taking care of your child’s teeth is important for their overall well-being and development.


Are Baby Teeth Important?

Primary teeth serve an important role in your child’s development. The size of a child’s jaw is not large enough to accommodate the same number and size of teeth as an adult. As a result, the teeth that come in during infancy are specifically designed to fit comfortably within a baby’s mouth.

Let’s consider the interesting scenario of keeping our baby teeth as we grow older. Over time, these teeth would become smaller and spread out, making them less effective at their intended tasks. Therefore, the presence of secondary teeth is essential. Infants depend on their primary teeth to begin the activities of eating and speaking, and then replace them with adult teeth once their mouth is ready.


Will Baby Teeth Affect Permanent Teeth?

The presence of baby teeth has an impact on your child’s permanent teeth, as each baby tooth serves as a placeholder for an adult tooth. If a primary tooth is accidentally knocked out or removed due to a tooth cavity, it cannot hold a place for an adult tooth. This problem may cause movement or crowding of your child’s teeth, potentially resulting in a delay in the growth of adult teeth below the impacted region.

Properly caring for baby teeth and regularly visiting the dentist are important for protecting permanent teeth from potential issues like cavities.