Top Things Your Baby’s Teeth Can Tell You About Their Health

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Teeth can say a lot about your health!

What’s the big deal about baby teeth if they are going to fall out eventually?

That’s probably what some new parents are thinking. It can be tempting to think that only the permanent teeth matter. But here is the thing, cavity-filled, missing, or broken baby teeth can lead to serious dental issues for the permanent teeth waiting to erupt. If they are carrying dental disease, they can pass the infection to the new teeth as they erupt.

The other important thing to note is that unhealthy baby teeth can also be an indication of other illnesses.

Read on to learn more!

Why Healthy Baby Teeth Are Important?

Baby teeth serve important functions in their lives, including:

  • Reserve space for the permanent teeth and help guide them into position
  • Help in the normal development of facial muscles and jaw bones
  • Enable babies to speak properly
  • Help babies chew healthy food
  • Add to an attractive smile and appearance

Poor baby oral health can cause problems. Parents need to get in the habit of regularly checking their kid’s teeth to look for any signs of dental and health issues.

Your baby’s oral health involves the structures of the mouth, which include gums, teeth, palate, and tongue. So, during regular visual inspections, check more than just the condition of the teeth.

Things Your Baby’s Teeth Can Tell You About Their Health

When inspecting the condition of your baby’s teeth, look out for the following.

Tooth Stains

One thing you may see on your baby’s teeth is tooth stains or discoloration. Two types of stains can occur on your baby’s teeth: intrinsic and extrinsic.

An intrinsic stain occurs within the tooth structure. This can happen before or after tooth eruption. Extrinsic tooth stains, on the other hand, occur on the surface of the tooth.

Intrinsic tooth stains can be caused by medication, excessive fluoride, newborn jaundice, or serious illness. Some medications (antibiotic tetracycline) that pregnant women take can cause the baby to have discolored teeth. Exposing your child’s mouth to excessive fluoride may cause bright white spots on the teeth. Also, babies who develop newborn jaundice may have a green tint on their teeth.

Causes of extrinsic tooth staining usually include food and sugary drinks.

Tooth staining may be localized or generalized to individual teeth. The color of the baby teeth may vary from gray-brown, light green to dark yellow.

Front Teeth Gap

If your baby has gapped front teeth, then it could be due to a tongue tie, a condition caused by a frenulum. You should inspect the mouth to see if that’s the case.

A frenulum is a fold of skin that attaches the upper lip to the top gum. A tight frenulum is the main cause of a tongue tie. It is usually tight, short, and restricts the movement of the tongue. Babies with a tongue tie have mechanically difficulty latching to a nipple during breastfeeding.

This guide talks more about other causes of a tongue tie, diagnosis, symptoms, and treatment.

Chipped, Cracked, Broken Teeth

It is not uncommon for children to have chipped, cracked, or broken teeth during their development. This is usually due to their playful nature—biting hard objects, diving, jumping, and running. They can easily cause damage to those little pearly whites. Chipped or broken teeth may also result from improper tooth contact.

So, what can you do about broken, chipped, or cracked baby teeth? If a tooth is pushed up after a fall, it may come back down on its own. But it is advisable to take your child to a pediatric dentist as soon as possible. If a tooth breaks off completely, the physician may have to take it out. But it also depends on how much of the baby's nerve is exposed.

Can a broken or chipped baby tooth impact the permanent tooth? When children chip, crack or break their teeth in a fall, their permanent teeth will not be affected. They will, however, suffer some problems with the affected baby teeth.

Tooth Decay (Cavities)

Cavities or tooth decay is a condition that damages the outer layer of the teeth. Early childhood tooth decay is a reality, which leads to pain and discomfort.

Tooth decay is one of the most visible signs of dental health problems in children. If left untreated, cavities or holes in baby teeth can form. These cavities or holes can increase in size and destroy the whole tooth.
Untreated cavities or holes in a tooth can cause a periapical tooth abscess, which can result in swelling and irritation at the tip of a root.

Crooked Teeth

You may observe your baby’s teeth coming in crooked when they are erupting. This is very normal because baby teeth are smaller compared to permanent teeth. You should probably get more concerned when their permanent teeth come in crooked.

In most cases, your baby’s teeth will position themselves in a crooked way because they are too small. Some prolonged habits like thumb and pacifier sucking can push baby teeth out of alignment. Tooth decay and trauma can also lead to crooked teeth.

Red, Swollen, or Puffy Gums

If your baby’s gums are red, swollen, or puffy, then they could be teething (tooth eruption). Teething is a normal process that occurs when a baby’s teeth grow and break through the gums.

In toddlers, however, red, swollen, or puffy gums may be caused by something else. This may include improper oral hygiene, gingivitis, and vitamin deficiencies.

When to See a Pediatric Dentist?

You may know right away that your child has a dental problem when they complain of pain, sensitivity, or trouble chewing.

But you can see a lot with a visual inspection of your child’s mouth. Things like tooth decay (cavities), tooth stains, tongue ties, chipped teeth, and swollen gums can all indicate dental problems. You shouldn’t wait until you see these problems, however, to take your child to a pediatric dentist.

Your baby’s dentist visits should start as early as the first tooth appears.

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