Losing that first tooth is a milestone in every child’s life; however, did you know that when and how a child loses their baby teeth can affect their orthodontic needs later on?
Losing baby teeth too soon, too late or in the wrong order can cause the new adult teeth to come in in the wrong position. The severity of this misalignment will determine the extent to which they will need orthodontic treatment in their teens.
One of the most common issues caused by losing baby teeth too early is crowding. Baby teeth preserve space for adult teeth. If baby teeth are lost too early, that space can be lost and cause the adult teeth to come in crooked. Alternatively, if baby teeth are lost too late, the underlying adult teeth can become crowded, and may not be able to push out the baby teeth. It’s important to note that pulling baby teeth may not correct this kind of crowding.
Another issue that can arise when baby teeth are lost late is that the adult teeth can erupt before the baby teeth are gone. This results in two rows of teeth. In most cases this corrects itself over time; however, it is important to take your child to the dentist every 6 months so your dentist can monitor your child’s progress.
Late tooth loss could be a sign of a missing adult tooth. Baby teeth need adult teeth to push them out. If an adult tooth is missing there is nothing to loosen the baby tooth and start the process. Congenital missing teeth affects 1% of the population. If you are worried that your child may be missing an adult tooth, contact your dentist for an x-ray. If your child has a missing adult tooth your dentist may recommend preserving the baby tooth, replace the missing tooth with an implant or depending on where the missing tooth is and how noticeable it is, close the space with braces.
It is important to remember that every child is different and will lose their baby teeth at their own pace. Most cases resolve themselves over time; however, if you are concerned about your child’s teeth visit your dentist. They can take x-rays, examine your child’s teeth, diagnose if there is an issue, and develop a treatment plan if necessary.