Baby teeth – what if they erupt crooked? by Dr. Melissa Skinner (Third St. Dental)

‘Baby teeth’ are essential to a healthy child’s growth and development. It allows your toddler to eat comfortably, learn to speak well and esthetically be proud of their smile. Also, ‘baby teeth’ need to stay put well beyond the infancy and toddler years.  In fact, some of the ‘baby teeth’ will still be in place when the child goes to middle school.

Another big point of ‘baby teeth’ is that they hold the space for the developing permanent teeth. So if a baby tooth is lost early, teeth will naturally shift forward. This will cause crowding of the permanent teeth.

Since the baby teeth will be around for many years, it’s important to establish an oral-care routine as early as possible.  This involves brushing your child’s teeth daily and seeing your family dentist after the first tooth erupts. I personally find a great time for a first visit is between 12-18 months.

Okay… what if the baby teeth come in crooked?

Sometimes the baby teeth will erupt twisted. They are still healthy, and not a reason for concern. Many times, the crooked teeth will straighten out on their own. It may be reassuring to know that there is no link between crooked baby teeth and crooked permanent teeth. My recommendation would be to monitor the development of the next baby teeth. If the rest of the teeth come in straight, then all is good.

If the baby teeth are coming in crooked due to crowding, this is an indication that the permanent teeth will come in crowded. If your toddler’s teeth are fighting over space, flossing becomes more important. Cavities form more easily in-between tight teeth. Being crowded is a genetic trait and orthodontic treatment such as braces may be in your child’s future… however, it’s much too early to say for sure.

Spaces in-between ‘baby teeth’ is a good thing. It gives the larger permanent teeth room to come in. And they are easier to keep clean, as saliva can naturally cleanse all the surfaces of the teeth.

All in all, keeping your toddler’s teeth healthy is the main goal during these early years. Brushing daily and eating healthy meals and snacks are ways to prevent cavities. Cavities in ‘baby teeth’ spread very quickly, so I recommend seeing your family dentist every 6 months to examine your child’s teeth.

If you don’t have a family dentist, ask your friends for personal recommendations. And of course, you can look me up, as I am always accepting new families into my practice. Any more questions, please do not hesitate to ask me. It’s always a pleasure.