All about Cleft Lip and Palate

Cleft lip and/or palate are among the most common birth defects worldwide. In the United States alone, more than 4000 babies are born with cleft lip every year, while as much as 3000 have cleft palate. These developmental defects occur when the structures that form the lip and/or roof of the mouth fail to fuse properly during embryonic development.

Risk Factors for Cleft Lip and Palate:

Risk factors that could lead to the development of cleft lip and palate include diabetes, smoking, alcohol abuse, and anti-seizure medications to name a few. Not taking enough folic acid may also be contributing factor.

Genetics and race may also play a role, as it has been found that babies of Asian, Native American, and Latin American descent are more likely to develop cleft lip and/or palate than everyone else.

Diagnosis of Cleft and Lip Palate:

Cleft lip can easily be diagnosed during pregnancy via routine ultrasound, while cleft palate may only be diagnosed after the baby is born. Some forms of cleft palate are diagnosed later in life.

Types of Cleft Lip and Palate:

There are two major types of cleft – cleft lip and cleft palate. Some babies are born with either cleft lip or cleft palate, but there are also those who have both.

A cleft lip appears like an opening on the edge of the upper lip, but in severe cases, it may extend up to the nose. It may be a partial or complete, unilateral (one-sided) or bilateral (both sides) cleft.

On the other hand, a cleft palate pertains to the split in the floor of the mouth, which results to communication between the nasal and oral cavity. The cleft usually involves the soft palate, or it may also extend into the bony hard palate.

Complications of Cleft Lip and Palate:

The most common problems associated with clefts are feeding difficulties, especially in the case of a cleft palate. The gap in the roof of the mouth prevents proper suction, and thus necessitates the use of special feeders that aid parents in feeding their babies.

Other complications that may arise include speech difficulties, ear infections and possible hearing loss, and dental problems such as misshapen, missing, or misaligned teeth. There may also be increased risk for tooth decay since the enamel of the teeth tends to be weaker, and the salivary flow is often decreased and less effective.

Treatment for Cleft Lip and Palate:

Cleft lip and palate is a complicated problem that requires team effort to manage. Treatment depends on the severity of the cleft. Some patients may only need orthodontic treatment, but surgery is required most of the time. Surgical treatment is often planned and executed by a team of specialists which usually include an orthodontist, an oral surgeon, a pediatrician, an otorhinolaryngologist (ENT specialist), and a speech therapist. The initial surgery will take place in as early as eight weeks.

Successful treatment shall help the patient achieve normal appearance and function.

Teething Do’s and Don’ts

The lower incisors, the first baby teeth to erupt, come out at around six months.

It can be a pain not just to your little baby, but for the whole family as well. It practically leaves everyone in dire need for relief.

There’s drooling, crying, and difficulty sleeping that often throws you in the loop. As a parent, you are often left wondering what you can do to make your little one’s pain go away.

Luckily, there are a lot of remedies that promise to sooth your infant’s sensitive gums, but not all of them are reliable. Here are some of the best – and worst – ideas.



Massage your baby’s gums. After washing your hands, use your fingers to gently rub your baby’s gums.

It is a great way to relieve pain, while also making your little one more accustomed to the feel of brushing in his/her mouth.

Give proper dose of pain relievers. If your tot is having difficulty falling asleep or wakes up in the middle of the night due to teething, then you may consider giving him/her some mild pain relievers like paracetamol.

Ideally, you should consult with the pediatrician but if it is some sort of emergency, be sure to use the medications sparingly and follow the instructions closely to avoid any unwanted reactions.


Use topical anesthetics. Gels containing local anesthetics like lidocaine and benzocaine seem like a quick fix, but they actually an absolute no-no.

Anesthetics are toxic to infants and very young children. They can lead to serious side effects like brain damage, seizures, and worst – death.

Benzocaine, which is more commonly available as Baby Orajel, potentially causes a rare serious condition called methemoglobinemia.

Use teething tablets. Just a couple of years ago, the US FDA issued warning against a particular brand of teething tablet due to its potential side effects.

To be sure, avoid using any form of teething tablets for your little one.

Use pain relievers on infants below four months. Children under four months are more prone to serious adverse reactions from pain relievers.

If medications are absolutely needed, consult a pediatrician first before giving him/her any medicine.



Give a teething ring to bite on. Teething babies love to chew on things because it can somehow relieve the discomfort caused by their inflamed gums. A cold teething ring will do just that.

Have your kid chew on a cold washcloth. If you don’t have a teething ring lying around, this is a much simpler, yet equally effective trick.

Put damp washcloth in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes, being careful not to freeze it. And be sure that the cloth is made from safe materials and that your kid does the chewing under supervision.

Also watch out for any tears and holes, and replace the cloth if any.


Give liquid-filled teething rings.

This kind may leak or break over time and cause you child to ingest potentially dangerous materials. And while cold teething rings feel good, remember to avoid freezing them because they can hurt your kid’s already sensitive gums.



Keep a dry washcloth handy. This is so you can dry all the excess saliva that has pooled on your baby’s chin.

Teething involves a lot of drooling here and there so you always have to have a cloth nearby.

Apply a protective coating on your baby’s skin. Try using Vaseline and apply it onto your kid’s cheek and chin before putting him to sleep.

This will help protect your baby’s skin.

It is particularly beneficial if your baby has a sensitive skin that develops “drool rash” upon contact with saliva.

The appearance of your baby’s little teeth is such an amazing milestone. And while the process of teething can be stressful for you and your baby, it is a step closer to a wonderful smile.

Be sure to take great care of your kid’s teeth by cleaning it twice daily and paying a visit to your pediatric dentist.

How to Teach Your Kids Better Oral Hygiene

Children must be taught of the importance of oral health care as soon as possible.

Learning proper oral hygiene at an early age is crucial for long-term oral health.

Help your child develop a lifetime of healthy smiles by teaching them good dental care habits.

Here are some strategies that could help you.

Lead by example

The best way to teach your kids is by showing them how something is done. They learn faster that way.

Your kid should see you brushing your teeth when you wake up in the morning and before going to bed at night.

If you do this before they wake up or after they go to bed, change your routine so they can watch you. You can even let you help them you brush your teeth like how you help them with theirs.

Make it a fun time

Seeing you actually do it is a great start, but it would be a whole lot better if you’d make toothbrushing a fun time.

Be creative and make up a story, sing, or have them listen to a cute song about toothbrushing.

If you make it a fun and exciting activity, you kid will surely look forward to it.

Use an electric toothbrush

Another effective way to motivate your child to brush their teeth is by using an electric toothbrush.

Aside from looking like a toy which they’d be more excited to use, it also makes brushing fast, easy, and more efficient.

A water flosser instead of the usual thread floss will also be more interesting for them. For mouth rinses, use one with yummy color and flavor.

Gross them out

You kid will also be encouraged to improve their oral hygiene if they know what will happen if they don’t brush their teeth.

One way to do so is by using plaque disclosing tablets or solutions that would help show areas of plaque buildup.

Tell them that these areas are the ones they often miss, but don’t forget to also show those areas that they were able to brush thoroughly.

If the plaque deposits have already turned into tartar, let them know that they need to visit the dentist to have them removed because simple toothbrushing won’t do.

Let them take over

Children aged six years old and above may be able to brush on their own so let them take over.

Kids’ dexterity at this age is enough for them to be allowed to take charge of their own dental care.

Just be sure to supervise them while doing it and inspect their teeth after to make sure that they have done it properly.

The American Dental Association recommends supervising your kids until age 8.

Better yet, ask them to brush along with you. You can also use a timer that will let them know when to proceed onto the next teeth.

Children live by their older people’s example, so it is up to you as a parent and role model whether or not they will stick with good dental habits.

Encourage them to brush and floss daily and watch them grow up with strong teeth and overall healthy mouths.

Dental Treatment Considerations for Pregnant Women: Part I

In between trips to your ob-gyne, shopping for baby stuff, and setting your little angel’s bedroom, never forget to include your dental visits in your pregnancy checklist.

Your oral health is as important as your general health during this crucial period, and your dentist can help you with any dental-related symptoms you might be experiencing.

According to the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, American Academy of Pediatrics, and American Dental Association, “all pregnant women should do regular dental visits because “oral health is directly related to good overall health.”

As for your dentist, here are the treatment considerations that they have to implement when handling pregnant patients.

Elective Dental Treatment

Elective dental treatment pertains to procedures that are not urgently needed.

They are recommended by dentists because they are beneficial for the patient, but doesn’t need to be done right away.

These include simple restorative procedures, professional cleaning (for maintenance), and most cosmetic dental procedures.

In pregnant women, these procedures may be postponed until after you have given birth, particularly if it involves the anesthetics and x-rays.

Emergency Dental Treatment

Emergency treatment is the opposite of elective, as it requires the procedure to be performed in the soonest time possible.

This includes symptomatic cases of extensive tooth decay which necessitates immediate restoration or extraction.

Tooth decay, in particular, must be considered an emergency because the infection can spread throughout the body and affect your unborn baby.

Severe or advanced cases of gum disease must also be addressed whenever possible because it also increases the risk for adverse pregnancy outcomes, the most common of which is premature birth and low birth weight.

Timing of Dental Treatment

As much as possible, all dental treatment must be postponed until after giving birth and dental visits must be limited to check-ups and oral hygiene instructions.

However, since this is not possible and treatment is needed in most instances, the best time to do elective dental procedures is during the second trimester, because it is during the first and third trimesters when the unborn baby is most sensitive to chemicals and radiation.

Only emergency dental procedures must be considered during the first and third trimesters.

If x-rays are necessary for the emergency treatment, the number of shots taken is the fewest possible.

Scaling and polishing for advanced cases of gum disease may be repeated up to the first half of the third trimester only.

Dental X-rays

Although dental x-rays are deemed safe by the American Dental Association due to their low dose, they are used only when absolutely necessary.

As much as possible, you dentist will delay taking x-rays until after your first trimester. And to protect you and your baby from the radiation, he or she will ask you to wear a lead apron with thyroid collar.

If you have concerns, you can always talk to your dentist to evaluate your case and see if x-rays can be rescheduled at a later period.

There you go. Done – with the first part.

There’s a lot of things your dentist consider when handling pregnant patients and one blog post isn’t enough to discuss all of them.

That’ why this post will come with a second part where more treatment considerations will be discussed.

Oral Healthcare For Pregnant Women

Women who are expecting the arrival of their newest family member can expect a whole lot of other things, especially with regards to their oral health.

Find more information about the most common oral health problems experienced by pregnant women in this previous blog post.

Meanwhile in this article, we will tackle the most important aspects of oral health care for them.

Screening and Prevention

If your last dental visit is more than six months ago, then it’s about time to pay your dentist a visit.

All pregnant women are advised to go to their dentist for the assessment of important things like their oral hygiene practices, existing oral health problems (i.e. tooth decay, gum problems, etc.), frequency of dental visits, and access to fluoridated water.

They should also undergo a comprehensive oral examination to assess the health of her teeth, gums, and other oral structures.

This will be followed by instructions on how to properly perform brushing and flossing, control diet, and do regular dental visits.

Your dentist and ob-gynecologist will communicate and develop an ongoing collaborative relationship until you after you have given birth.

Your ob-gynecologist will approve or recommend any safety measures that your dentist should execute upon providing your dental treatment.

Dental Procedures

Your dentist will set and do all the dental procedures you need during the second trimester of pregnancy because it is when the development of your unborn baby’s internal organs is complete.

If you need any emergency dental treatment, it may be performed at any trimester, although extra care will be provided during the third trimester due to possibility of additional problems and complications.

To prevent this, your dentist will consider giving you short appointments and observe certain precautionary measures.


Supplementation with calcium and magnesium is important for expectant mothers. These minerals are crucial for the maintenance of healthy bones and teeth.

Magnesium has the added benefit of promoting restful sleep and relieving headaches, cramps, and even bruxism or teeth grinding.

Dietary Modifications

Pregnant women are advised to take a variety of healthy foods which include a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grain products, and dairy products. Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs, are also fine.

Foods that must be avoided to maintain oral health (and also general health) are sweets, high-sugar fruit juices, and sodas.

Drink plenty or water and/or milk in place of sugar-rich drinks. Fluoridated water is recommended to help strengthen your teeth and that of your baby’s.

You may obtain it from community fluoridated water source, or you can buy bottled fluoridated water.

Care must be taken, however, to avoid water with too much fluoride because it can result in mottling of the teeth.

Pregnant women only need 3.0mg of fluoride per day.

Poor oral health care and delaying the treatment that you might need could result in significant risk to you and your baby.

To prevent this, it is extremely important to take care of your oral health during and even after pregnancy.

A Parent’s Guide To Oral Health Care for Kids

Healthy teeth and good oral hygiene come hand-in-hand, and both are important for everyone regardless of age – even in infants and young kids.

Healthy primary teeth are as valuable as permanent teeth, for they shape the face and help kids chew and speak properly.

Decayed teeth, on the other hand, cause pain and discomfort. They also have a huge impact on the kid’s overall health and development, especially if the discomfort results to difficulty eating.

If left untreated, the decay can spread and damage the permanent teeth underneath, resulting to more painful and costly treatments.

To prevent this, we put up this parent’s guide to help you not just to keep your kid’s teeth healthy and strong, but also to set them up for a lifetime of good oral hygiene.


Teething typically starts at around six to eight months or as late as three years old, and it can last for a year.

As the teeth begin to erupt, the kid may experience some soreness of the gum tissue. This may be relieved by massaging the gums with a clean wet cloth, using a teething ring (but not the liquid-filled one), and asking them to chew on a cold apple.

Feeding them with soft, cold foods like yogurt and applesauce also help. If the soreness becomes too uncomfortable, you may give acetaminophen or better yet, consult a dentist.

And contrary to the popularly belief, high fever is not a symptom of teething. So if your kid experience persistent high fever, consult his/her pediatrician immediately.

At-Home Oral Health Care:

Good oral hygiene should be practiced even before teething begins.

It is recommended for parents that as soon as the kid is born, the gum tissue should be wiped with a clean wet cloth every after feeding to prevent build-up of bacteria.

Then, as the baby teeth starts to erupt one by one and the kid gets old enough, toothbrushing may be instituted.

At first, you will have to guide them until they can brush by themselves – at about age 7 or 8.

Brushing should be done twice a day for approximately two minutes long, paying attention especially to the molar teeth where decay often develops.

Flossing is also advised to prevent tooth decay in-between teeth. This should be done once the teeth begin to touch each other.

Professional Oral Health Care:

Aside from at-home care, you should also take your kid to the dentist regularly as soon as the first baby tooth erupts or at age 1 – whichever comes first.

Even without tooth decay or other dental problems, dental visits are important for consultation and patient education as well as for availing preventive treatments such as cleaning, sealants, and topical fluoride application.

Fluoride treatment on regular intervals may be necessary to make the teeth stronger and more resistant to tooth decay.

Parents have an important role in their kid’s dental health. They should teach their kids the importance of oral hygiene as early as possible.

And would be the best way to do that than to lead by example; demonstrate to your kid how it should be done while also repeatedly emphasizing how oral health affects general health and overall quality of life.

A Parent’s Guide To Tooth Decay in Kids

Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic diseases that affect children. According to studies, more than half of children aged 2 to 11 has at least one decayed tooth in their mouth.

In this article, we come up with a handy parent’s guide to tooth decay in kids so you’ll know what expect when your child develops a cavity and how to prevent it.

Early Childhood Caries

The American Dental Association define Early Childhood Caries, or ECC, as having at least one missing, decayed, or filled tooth surface in any of the 20 primary teeth.

The primary teeth, or baby teeth, are the first set of teeth that erupt in the mouth. ECC is an infectious disease that poses a significant public health problem and must therefore be prevented.

Causes of Early Childhood Caries

Early Childhood Caries can occur as soon as the first baby teeth appear in the mouth.

The most common risk factor to its development is prolonged exposure of the teeth to sugary fluids, such as when leaving your kid’s baby bottle in his/her mouth while he/she sleeps or when using a training cup.

The sugary fluids in the bottle or cup pool around the teeth, causing decay. This is why ECC is otherwise known as baby bottle tooth decay.

Another factor than has a huge impact on your kid’s teeth is diet. Again, sweets should be limited because they cause increased risk for decay, while nutritious foods can help make teeth healthy and strong if coupled with good oral hygiene.

What to Expect

Tooth decay, especially if extensive, can cause pain and discomfort. If left untreated, it can also lead to the damage of the developing permanent teeth underneath.

Most cases of decay require dental work, which can range to simple fillings for small cavities to a full crown for the more extensive ones. Treatment is necessary from prevent decay of other teeth.

Prevention of Early Childhood Caries

The best way to ensure that your kid’s teeth will be decay free is institute proper oral hygiene early on. In babies, it is important to wipe their gums with a clean washcloth every after feeding.

Once the primary teeth begin to erupt, brush them gently with small toothbrush and water – no need to use fluoride toothpaste yet, water is just fine.

When your child is old enough, usually at age 2, you may begin using fluoride toothpastes. Use a pea-sized amount only and be sure to supervise him/her until you’re sure that he/she can brush properly enough (oftentimes at age 6).

Although very common among kids, tooth decay is easily preventable. Aside from watching your kid’s eating habits and instilling good oral hygiene at a young age, it is also advisable to visit the dentist regularly so that any dental problems can be detected and treatment – be it curative or preventive – can be rendered as early as possible. Always remember, your kid’s dental health is just as important as his/her general health.

Management of Oral Habits

As we have learned from our previous blog post, oral habits are pretty common especially in young kids. We’ve also discussed how these habits can cause unsightly changes to teeth and/or jaws.

In this second article, we will now focus on treatment.

Thumb Sucking:

Thumb sucking is caused by many different things, and it’s important to determine what the underlying issue is before rendering any treatment or intervention.

First of all, you should know that thumb sucking is actually a self-soothing habit for kids, but it can be detrimental to the alignment of the teeth in the long run.

In most cases, kids simply grow out of it without any intervention, while others just can’t bring themselves to stop it. Extreme cases, meanwhile, can be solved only with the help of a child therapist.

Discontinuation should occur spontaneously and not forced upon the child. Once the habit is completely stopped, only then can definitive treatment be rendered.

The sooner or earlier the habit is stopped, the more likely the changes that occurred will correct itself. One way to do so is by counseling the kid.

The success of counseling depends on the kid’s level of understanding – that is, his or her ability to understand the troubles thumb sucking can cause. Counseling is therefore more appropriate for older kids.

Besides counseling, another approach is the so-called reminder therapy. This is for kids who need additional help in stopping the habit. It involves putting a cue – can be a bandage, a bitter substance, etc. – on the patient’s finger to serve as reminder that they should not put their finger into their mouth. But be sure to emphasize over and over again that the cue is a just reminder and not some sort of punishment.

Also, praising the kid for stopping the habit can help a lot. The reminder therapy may also be combined with a reward system, wherein if the kid is able to discontinue the habit within a specified amount of time, he or she will be given a reward. If either counseling and reminder therapy proves to be ineffective, only then will installation of preventive appliances be necessary.

Tongue Thrusting:

Management of tongue thrusting comes in two methods.

The first one involves the use of an appliance similar to a mouth-guard or it can also be a more permanent appliance adjusted by the dentist on a regular basis.

The other approach is by training the patient to change his or her swallowing pattern. This is achieved through a series of exercises called the orofacial myofunctional therapy. Such method sorts of “re-educate” the muscles into following the right swallowing pattern. The orofacial myofunctional therapy offers high and long-term success rate.

Lip Sucking:

There really isn’t much we can do to stop the lip sucking habit; nonetheless, steroids and antibiotic ointments may be applied to provide relief on irritated areas.


Intervention is usually not necessary since most kids outgrow bruxism. But for those who don’t, there are a couple of treatments that can help. These include fabrication of mouthguards, performing stress-reducing exercises, removal of interferences on biting surfaces of the teeth, and referral to appropriate specialists to rule out any medical or psychological problems.

The first step is consulting your dentist to determine which of these options would be most appropriate for you or your kid’s case.

Nail Biting

The simplest, most practical solution to this habit is applying nail polish to discourage the practice. Behavioral therapy may also be helpful, but kids would probably prefer nail polish since it can also make their nails look attractive. And since nail biting has been linked to obsessive-compulsive behaviors, severe cases of this habit – which, in some cases could also involve finger biting – may therefore require the use of some anti-depressants.

Your Kid’s First Dental Visit: What to Expect

First-time parents often have this question about their kid’s oral health: “When should my kid’s first dental visit be?”

According to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, it should be as soon as the kid turns one, or earlier if he or she is at high risk for tooth decay.

Some parents would find that age too early, so they tend to plan the dental visit when their kids are much older.

But one year old is actually the right time if you want to avoid future dental problems. In fact, some dentist would advocate bringing your kid to the dentist as soon as his or her very first primary tooth erupts.

But in case you are wondering how this visit will go about, here’s a short list of what to expect during your kid’s first dental visit.

Initial consultation

First dental visits, especially for kids, are always about consultations first. In this consultation, the general or pediatric dentist will teach the parent on how to properly care for a kid’s mouth in order to avoid dental problems.

The parent will also be instructed about proper diet, prevention of oral habits (i.e. grinding, thumbsucking) if any, prevention of accidents that could damage the kid’s teeth, and what would happen in the coming months as the kid continues to grow.

Clinical examination

Along with the initial consultation, the dentist may also conduct a comprehensive oral and dental examination to determine what treatment – preventive or curative – does the kid need.

The dentist and the parent will be in knee-to-knee position with each other. The kid will sit on the parent’s lap, and then lay down with his or her head on the dentist’s lap. This position allows both the dentist and the parent to see the kid’s mouth clearly.

The kid, on the other hand, will be facing his or her parent and can look up to the dentist at the same time.

Cleaning and fluoride application

First dental visit is mostly for consultation (and sometimes clinical examination) due to one important reason: the dentist wouldn’t want to scare the kid by doing routine dental work right away.

As much as possible, no procedures should be performed because they want this first dental visit to be as comfortable and relaxing as possible.

However, in kids who are highly susceptible to decay, immediate cleaning and topical fluoride application may sometimes be necessary.

This is totally fine because they are not as invasive and “scary” as doing restorations and extractions.

Scheduling of follow-up visits

After consultation, your dentist formulates a treatment plan and schedules your kid’s future dental visits.

The interval of this visits is anywhere from weeks to months, depending on your kid’s treatment needs. The schedule your dentist will provide you must be followed thoroughly because they are sequenced accordingly.

Many dental problems can be treated or prevented more easily if they are detected early.

To do that, one must make it habit to start visiting the dentist even at an early age. Educate your kid early on about the importance oral and dental health, so he or she will be encouraged to go to the dentist more often.

Find a general or pediatric dentist that you trust and feel comfortable enough to ask any questions that you may have regarding your kid’s oral and dental health.

Why Your Child’s Primary Teeth is More Important Than You Think

Primary teeth, otherwise known as the deciduous teeth or baby teeth, are the first set of teeth that develops in the mouth.

They start erupting at around 4-6 months after birth and are completed at age 2-3. There are a total of 20 primary teeth.

At age 6-7, they begin to shed off one by one to give way to the new set of teeth, called the permanent teeth.

When you think about it, if these teeth will be lost anyway, then why go all the trouble of fixing, saving, and preserving them?

Well, even though they will eventually be replaced, the primary teeth serve many purposes – in fact, they have the same function as the permanent teeth.

But to convince you more, here is a list of specific reasons that will tell you just how important these little pearly whites are.

They help kids speak more clearly

The first primary teeth to erupt in children’s mouth are the lower and upper incisors.

These teeth, and all the primary teeth in general, are crucial for speech development because they provide contact points for the tongue.

These contact points allow for certain sounds to be articulated properly when speaking. Learning to speak properly is very important for cognitive and social development.

If any of the primary teeth goes missing for whatever reason, speech impediment results.

They help kids chew properly and more efficiently

Again, the primary teeth have the same function as the permanent teeth especially when it comes to chewing food.

Like your permanent teeth, each primary tooth serves its own purpose. For instance, both primary and permanent incisors are for incising and tearing food, while the primary and permanent molars are for crushing.

We often see kids whose teeth are so badly-broken down that they find it so difficult to chew. Aside from the pain caused by the decay, they also suffer from not being able to enjoy their food.

This hinders them from getting proper nutrition which, in turn, results in failure to thrive.

They boost self-confidence

Another important purpose of healthy primary teeth is for social interactions. Having a perfect set of teeth makes you feel more confident about how you look, right? The same goes for a kid who has a healthy set of primary teeth.

Children, even the very young ones, can easily differentiate a perfect smile from an ugly one. Taking good care of your kid’s primary teeth helps prevent bad breath, promote healthy smiles, and make social interactions much more pleasant for him or her.

They maintain jaw space for the erupting permanent teeth

Sound primary teeth have certain width that allow them to maintain space for the future permanent teeth. Each primary tooth holds the space for their permanent successor, and they won’t let go until these successors are ready to come out.

Early loss of these primary teeth – particularly the molars – causes the remaining ones to drift into the space left by the missing tooth. This results to the entrapment or impaction of the permanent teeth. Trapped or impacted permanent teeth may or may not erupt.

If they erupt, it would be a partial eruption only and the tooth won’t be on its proper location. It would in front of or at the back of the existing teeth. Regaining lost space is possible through orthodontic treatment, but it can be difficult and expensive.

If a primary tooth cannot be saved and there’s no other choice but to get rid of it, there is still a way to keep the space open through the use of “space maintainer.”

A space maintainer is an orthodontic appliance consisting of a wire loop soldered to a metal band. The metal band is cemented on the tooth, while the wire loop extends across the gap and rests on the tooth on the other side of the gap.

The wire loop preserves the space left by the missing tooth by preventing the movement of the tooth on which the metal band is attached.

They preserve the health of the erupting permanent teeth

Early childhood caries is a severe form of tooth decay that affects children aged 0-4. If left untreated, the decay can affect the deeper parts of the tooth and eventually the underlying permanent teeth. This leads to the decay of the permanent teeth even before they erupt.

To avoid this, the decayed primary tooth may have to be removed. But this must be followed by the installation of a space maintainer to preserve the space.

Whenever possible, saving a primary tooth is must for the reasons stated above. For more information, consult your general dentist or if possible, your pediatric dentist as soon as your kid’s primary teeth erupt.

A pediatric dentist is someone who specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of dental issues not just of young children, but of adolescents as well.