Brushing your baby teeth seems like an exercise in futility. After all, it’s not like they’re going to stick around for very long – just half a dozen years or so and their replacements will start popping in one after another. So what’s the point in keeping them clean and cavity free when they won’t be around for the long haul?
In the first place, it’s all about the habits. The first few years of a child’s life have the greatest impact on the kind of person he or she will be for the rest of his or her life. The earlier you can teach a child what to do and how to behave, the longer that behavior is going to last.
At the same time, the early impact of dental hygiene goes well beyond establishing important habits. Our adult teeth form long before they erupt from our gums, and they use our baby teeth to line themselves up properly. If the baby teeth come in crooked, the adult teeth will follow their example, and so it’s important to let a dentist or an orthodontist care for these teeth no matter how impermanent they may be.
Cavities in baby teeth can also contribute directly to cavities in adult teeth. Cavities are full of the bacteria that eat enamel, and since adult teeth only erupt one at a time, they’ll be exposed to that excess bacteria until a dentist cleans and fills the cavity or until the last cavity-filled tooth comes out.
Thus, although you may not have to take care of them forever, it’s a very good idea to take care of baby teeth while they’re still around. Having your children brush their teeth as soon as they’re able to do so will develop good habits that will stick with them for the rest of their lives, and clean baby teeth have a direct impact on clean adult teeth. Also, the job of making sure your teeth come in straight and even starts before your permanent teeth so much as appear outside of your gums. So while the cavities in your first set of teeth may not hang around, the results of your actions will persist for a lot longer.