It has long bothered dentists when a parent arrives with a child with a sore tooth and says “it’s only a baby tooth so can you take it out”.

Deciduous, or baby teeth, serve several important functions:

  • They are necessary to reserve space for the developing second teeth which are underneath.
  • They are also needed for a child to develop correct speech.
  • And, of course, they are of great assistance in eating and for providing for adequate digestion of food.

The function of reserving space for the follow on of the permanent teeth is most important and much of the need for orthodontics might be avoided if the deciduous teeth were allowed to be naturally lost and not too early.

When a baby tooth is lost naturally it usually appears as if the root has been eaten away.
This is what happens in the normal case, the root of the deciduous tooth resorbs, or dissolves away, as the second tooth manoeuvres into place beneath. The deciduous tooth loosens as its foundation disappears.

Often, the moment the deciduous tooth is lost the second tooth is there just below the surface ready to take its correct position in the mouth.

The premature loss of a deciduous tooth may cause the teeth either side of that lost tooth to drift into the space provided for the developing permanent tooth underneath.

The result can be crooked teeth or even teeth erupting in strange places such as from the side of the gum or into the roof of the mouth.

Should the deciduous tooth have been lost in the front of the mouth further complications of speech development difficulty may be experienced.

The early loss of the back deciduous teeth can have significant consequences. Although not readily noticeable, this loss can lead to the slow forward movement of the six-year old molars leading to the crowding of the back permanent teeth.

The result is usually prolonged orthodontic treatment invariably in the early teenage years.