As a parent, you likely know that you should try to keep your child's primary teeth as healthy as possible. You know they need them to chew properly and that cavities that become too large can affect the pulp of the tooth, leading to infection. However, some parents do think that tooth decay in primary teeth is not a serious as decay in adult teeth, as they are only temporary. While temporary, care of primary teeth is extremely important, and here are two lesser-known reasons why.
1. Children with Tooth Decay May Experience Stunted Growth
As studies are performed, researchers have found more and more ways that bad oral health can affect the entire body, such as how bad teeth can affect the heart. A newer discovery has been made on how tooth decay affects children's growth.
A study was conducted on a large group of children between the ages of 6 and 8. Children of these ages typically still have many primary teeth, although some front teeth at this age have been replaced by adult teeth. The study conductors gave each child's oral health a rating, with children who had the most tooth decay and/or prior tooth extractions due to decay given the lowest rating. The children with the lowest oral-health ratings were found to be shorter than children who had good oral health.
Just exactly how bad oral health affects growth in children as not yet been discovered, but this study does give parents yet another reason to ensure their child's teeth, even primary ones, are as healthy as they possible to encourage healthy development.
2. Bad Teeth Can Inhibit a Child's Social Development
While tooth decay in children has many health consequences, it can also contribute to psychological problems. Children have their primary teeth during important stages in their life when they are just learning to interact appropriately with other children and adults.
Children with tooth decay can develop speech problems due to wanting to keep their mouths closed to avoid others seeing their teeth. The fact that they don't want to talk and smile can also lead to an inability to make friends during this important time when they are just learning to socialize. They can also suffer from insomnia and irritability from tooth pain or the mental anguish of having mouths they are ashamed of.
While some parents may think that children would speak up if teeth were getting so bad that they are affected emotionally, many young children simply can't express their feelings the way adults can. That is why it is the parent's job to ensure a child's teeth are healthy and not only the child's.
It is important to keep your child's teeth healthy, whether they are primary teeth or adult teeth. Tooth decay affects a child in many ways that you may not realize. If your child currently has tooth decay, take him or her to the dentist and have a treatment plan formed to improve the health of their teeth.
To learn more, contact a pediatric dentistry clinic like Southridge Pediatric Dentistry.