Baby teeth, sometimes referred to as deciduous teeth or milk teeth, may not seem all that important. After all, they all fall out eventually, right?
If you’ve ever thought about why we have baby teeth and whether or not they serve a purpose, then keep reading! Our friends over at FreySmiles help us to understand just how important these little teeth are.
The Role of Baby Teeth
Baby teeth serve a few important roles. They are needed for proper chewing, for speech development, and for oral muscles to function the best they can.
We can all agree that these are important functions. However, you may be asking yourself why we just can’t get our adult teeth to begin with—why do we need to start out with baby teeth?
Humans, like most mammals, are diphyodonts. This means we grow two sets of teeth as we age. The first set—our baby teeth—comes in while our skulls are still small and developing because, as babies and small children, our jaws aren’t large enough to accommodate the number and size of adult teeth we’ll eventually have.
However, if we kept our baby teeth forever, they would be too small and spaced out once our skulls grew to their adult size and we wouldn’t be able to chew effectively!
This is where the most important role of baby teeth comes into play. They're needed to preserve space for adult teeth while they are forming under our gums and inside our jaws. Our baby teeth serve as placeholders until our adult teeth are ready to come in.
If a baby tooth is removed early because of cavities or other issues, some of the space needed for our adult teeth is lost. This can lead to very crowded teeth when the rest of adult teeth grow in later on. Additionally, depending on other factors, when a baby tooth is prematurely lost, it may delay the eruption of the permanent tooth that was growing below it, since bone can fill in over top of it.
Now we know…baby teeth don’t just look adorable; they also serve as important players in our overall oral health and development. Looks really can be deceiving!
Looking for more Never Stop Asking "Why?" questions? Catch up on all of the past "Why's" on the blog!