What do you think is the most common chronic disease in children?
How many of you would say asthma? Or maybe heart disease? Or probably would go with diabetes?
Would it surprise you, if you heard that it is Dental caries?
Yes, cavities in teeth are much more common than one thinks and much more dangerous than one often imagines!
How many of you have said at least once, that milk teeth are temporary or that we needn’t bother about milk teeth as they will anyways fall out? I know most are guilty of this.
Well, they wouldn’t have existed if they didn’t serve any purpose!
Milk teeth are important because they –
• Help provide nutrition – milk teeth are necessary for proper chewing of food and hence for their digestion
• Help in speech – milk teeth are necessary for the production and learning of specific sounds. Don’t believe me? Try saying L, F, T, N, V without using your teeth!
• Aids normal development of the jaw bones and facial muscles.
• Adds to an attractive appearance and hence affect a child’s self esteem.
• Reserve space for the permanent teeth and help guide them into position. Early loss of milk teeth leads to drifting of adjacent teeth to the empty space and hence contributes to malocclusion, requiring correction at a later date.
• Contribute to the overall health of the child.
Few facts about cavities:
• The presence of cavities in milk teeth drastically increases the chances of decay in permanent teeth.
• An infection in a milk tooth could affect the formation and development of the succeeding permanent tooth.
• Infections in milk teeth can also lead to infections in vital organs in the head and neck
Also, you would be surprised to know that the last milk tooth falls when a child is about 12 years old. A body part that lasts for so many years, almost 20% of one’s average lifetime, and has repercussions on life-long health, doesn’t deserve to be neglected.
Did you know the name “milk teeth” comes from the fact that the refractive index of milk teeth is similar to that of milk? Milk teeth resemble the color of milk and hence are whiter than permanent teeth.