Dentistry is one of the areas of healthcare that responds readily to prevention. While many in the population have little dental fear, our culture and media are replete with dentistry images, indicating that dental treatment is bothersome for most people. Phrases like “It was worse than a root canal” or “He is not going to hurt you; he is just going to look” or “You will only feel a little pinch” are common.
Jokes abound with references to numb lips and tongue, dentists putting their knees on people’s chest to aid in the extraction of teeth, as well as women who state that they would rather have a child than have their teeth worked on. So how soon should you start taking care of your teeth?
Some parents still believe, “If it is a baby tooth, pull it; if it is a permanent tooth, save it!” In adult life, the mantra is “If it is a front tooth, save it; if it is a back tooth, pull it!” Both beliefs lead to terrible results for patients and increase the cost of replacing teeth in the proper position. The amount of trauma and fear imprinted on people during these dental experiences adds to the mass of people who fear the dentist.
Baby teeth (primary or deciduous teeth) are essential in preserving the space for the adult teeth’ eruption (secondary teeth or permanent teeth). They are essential because early tooth loss could lead to ill-shaped and wrongly positioned teeth, which would require braces to place the teeth in the correct position. Later in life, the increased need for crown and bridge restorations to replace and preserve teeth costs more.
It is not always easy to differentiate between baby teeth and adult teeth. Radiographs (X-ray representation) of teeth will also reveal that some primary teeth do not have secondary successors, and many adults retain primary teeth throughout their lives. Early loss of baby teeth can lead to the non-eruption of adult teeth or their eruption in abnormal positions.
Abnormally positioned teeth are harder to maintain and do not function as well as properly positioned teeth. Abnormally positioned teeth produce a malocclusion (teeth coming together in an unfavorable mouth and supporting structures.