Most baby teeth, also known as primary or “milk” teeth, usually fall out on their very own. There are times, however, when having primary teeth removed by your dentist is not only necessary but beneficial in the long term. On the other hand, there are times when one should not have baby teeth removed.
When patients come in for their complimentary examination, Dr. Varghese counts the remaining baby teeth left and how many permanent teeth are present. If our patients have more or less baby teeth for their age, Dr. Varghese will examine the panoramic x-ray, which tells us how close we can be expecting to lose or not to lose the remaining primary teeth.
If the loss of “milk” teeth are slow but in the correct sequence, Dr. Varghese will generally not be concerned as this can be a variation from normal. Conversely, if the primary teeth are still not falling out after being monitored for some period of time, they can adversely affect the eruption path of the underlying permanent teeth.
In many cases, when an adult tooth, also known as a permanent tooth, is erupting behind a baby tooth that is not loose, Dr. Varghese will send an extraction letter to the general dentist to have that primary tooth extracted. Keep in mind that removing primary teeth does NOT prevent teeth from crowding.
In some cases, primary teeth must be removed by your general dentist for reasons such as trauma or infections. When this happens, it is important to maintain the spacing until the permanent tooth erupts properly in its path. A “space maintainer” is placed immediately to prevent the adjacent teeth from shifting into its place. If a “space maintainer” is not placed, you will be looking at a longer treatment time at a more costly expense down the road.
Occasionally, we see patients who still have their primary upper canines. The panoramic x-ray image will let Dr. Varghese know if we need to extract the baby canines in order to help the permanent canines erupt properly in their space before they get “stuck” in the roof of the mouth (palate). Unfortunately, once a canine is in the palate, the only way to bring it down is with a small surgical procedure by an oral surgeon, so that we can bring the canine into proper alignment.
As you can see, baby teeth serve many important funtions in the development of the permanent or “adult” smile. Monitoring growth and dental development from a young age can usually prevent major issues such as canine impaction at a later age. Every child is unique and the decision to extract primary teeth or not is one that you and Dr. Varghese can make together.
Call our office for a complete and complimentary exam. Remember, age 7 is the optimal age to begin monitoring growth and dental eruption for orthodontics.