Baby Teeth-Still Nature’s Best Space Maintainer

Baby teeth are as important as adult teeth!

“But it’s just a baby tooth … why even bother to have the dentist look at it?”

One of the most common and potentially problematic misconceptions about baby teeth is their lack of “value.”

It’s not at all uncommon to hear adults comment that they just didn’t realize the importance of taking the best possible care of baby teeth.  After all, by age 6 kids are already beginning to lose some of their baby teeth.

“If my 7 year old daughter gets a small cavity or two at this age, what’s the big deal?  Isn’t there an adult tooth forming below just waiting to come in and replace the problem tooth anyways?”

 Why are Baby Teeth So Important?

If a baby tooth has even a small cavity on the surface adjacent to its neighbor, that little cavity can often become a big problem.

The reason it can become such a bad situation so quickly is the law of physics that says “Nature abhors a vacuum.”  In short, the natural laws of physics tend to want to fill voids or spaces.

It’s no different with our children’s teeth.  If Johnny’s baby first molar has a little tiny cavity in between teeth where it touches the baby second molar, the baby second molar will take that little space (caused by the cavity) as an “Invitation to come on in and close that little space right up!” In almost no time at all  your child’s teeth can shift and close any apparent space.

The little “voids” created by small cavities in between your child’s teeth may be so small , and hidden in between the teeth ,that even the most observant mom and dad may not realize they’re there. Unfortunately sometimes it only takes a practically invisible minor couple millimeters loss to create a major dental development problem.

 Concern for the Future

The biggest concern with the maintenance of space in children’s teeth is that baby teeth reserve the appropriate inter-tooth distance in order for the adult teeth to properly erupt.

Nature has worked a miracle creating “The Perfect Space Maintainers”… your child’s baby teeth.

Nature did a phenomenal job over the millenia creating the perfect blueprint for a successful happy, healthy, adult mouth.  But cavities of baby teeth can be the architects of that great plan’s demise.  It’s critically important that we thwart the cavities’ plan to disrupt nature’s beauty.

 An Ounce of Prevention

Since the early stages of tooth decay are often invisible to the naked eye, the only way to insure your child’s optimal health is a routine dental checkup and cleaning (these should start no later than age 2 or 3 for most children). In fact, a recent research article from the American Academy of Pediatrics entitled Fluoride Varnish for Baby Teeth tells us that once baby teeth come into the mouth they should be sealed with a fluoride varnish every 3-6 months to protect them!

If your child has already lost any part of a baby tooth prematurely … before the adult teeth were ready to come in, dentistry has the capability of remedying the situation.  However, the cost and time required to take impressions, make models, create a stainless steel or other type of “dental space maintainer” far exceeds the ease, comfort, and convenience of correcting the little cavity before he grew up and had the chance to cause his intended havoc with your child’s smile.

So often we hear “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”  In the case of your child’s teeth, an ounce of prevention is literally worth its weight in gold!

Dr. Andrea Stevens is a cosmetic and family dentist in practice in Kanata, Ontario. If you have dental questions, you can call her at 613-271-7091 or visit her at Please also feel free to leave comments or questions below, and Dr. Stevens will be happy to answer!