Losing baby teeth and gaining permanent ones is a natural course of events. Babies start to get their first set of teeth around the age of 6 months and the teeth will keep coming in until all twenty are in place, usually by the child’s third birthday. We want to keep the baby teeth healthy so that they can enable the child to speak clearly and eat healthy foods but the primary goal of this set of teeth is to save the space for the permanent teeth and help guide them into position. When a primary tooth is lost prematurely it puts the permanent tooth at risk.
You may not think so when you see it but a baby tooth actually has quite the root system and is securely held in place until the permanent tooth has had time to develop to the point that it is ready to erupt. As the permanent tooth inches closer to eruption the root of the baby tooth begins to deteriorate so that it is ready to come out at just the right time.
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By the time a child is twelve or thirteen years old his baby teeth should have been replaced by permanent ones. If this is has not happened it may be a case of what dentists call “over-retained baby teeth.” Typically this occurs when there is no permanent tooth under the gum to push the primary tooth out, but it could also be due to misalignment of the permanent tooth or something there blocking its progress.
There are various procedures for the treatment of this condition. The sooner it is diagnosed however, the better the prognosis will be. That is why it is so important that your pediatric dentist monitor the transition from the primary to the permanent teeth.
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