The Importance of Primary Teeth

Author: Dr. David Dickerhoff, DDS, MAGD, FOCOI

Welcome to the New Year!  New beginnings, a new administration and renewed optimism about dealing with this pandemic. I just received my second vaccine injection and I must commend Cape Fear Valley for their leadership effort in getting our community vaccinated.

The month of February has been designated by the American Dental Association as Children’s Dental Health Month and once again, we will be observing this event with a renewed commitment to the health of our young population. My remarks on this topic will try to make the point that children’s or primary teeth, are not a throwaway dentition that should not be cared for because they will be lost anyway. They serve many important functions and the guidance that you get from your health care professionals on growth and development are key to the health and well being of your little ones.

Primary teeth start developing even in utero (6-8 weeks) and continue to grow and develop throughout pregnancy.  Mothers should take excellent care of themselves throughout their pregnancy to include appropriate rest, good nutrition and avoidance of smoking and use of excessive alcohol. Fluoride passes through the placenta and is a vital building block to well formed enamel. Public water fluoridation have been with us since the 1950’s but the recent trend of turning to bottled water has started to reverse the trend of reduced cavity formation in our pediatric population. There are bottled waters that have fluoride in them, but you have to seek them out. Active ingredients are listed on the contents label and should have Sodium Fluoride listed. Fluoride even passes through breast milk, so our nursing mothers should remain on a fluoridated water supply. Fayetteville does fluoridate their water supply as does Fort Bragg. Many of you may be on a well water supply and Spring Lake Dental Group offers a free assay service through the Public Health Office to tell you if there is any fluoride in your water supply and how much.

The twenty teeth of the primary dentition begin erupting at roughly six months of age and continues until roughly age two and a half. Losing any of these teeth early through trauma, decay, abscess or congenital malformation has important sequelae for both the child’s health as well as their emotional development. Growth and development recommendations from your dental office are based upon experience, science, physiology and psychological concerns. The primary dentition remains stable until age six where it will then enter the mixed dentition phase of growth. The mixed dentition extends until roughly age twelve with the loss of he last primary teeth and the eruption of the twelve year molars. This too is a very important stage of growth and development that should be monitored closely by your dental professional. We are armed with many varied and straightforward treatment modalities to deal with all manner of growth and development abnormalities.

Having your child seen during his first year of life is the recommendation of the American Society of Pediatric Dentists. Continued routine visits every six months will allow you to have a conversation with your dental professional about these growth and development issues. Sometimes, having a vibrant and healthy smile needs a little help. We at Spring Lake Dental Group love having that conversation with our patients. 

Let’s have a great 2021!