Why milk teeth matter

Reasons why it's important to protect your children's milk teeth.

Surprising research from Denplan* has revealed that almost a third (30%) of UK parents think it’s acceptable for a child to have experienced tooth decay before they have reached their teenage years. 1

It’s fair to say that no parent would ever wish for their child to experience tooth decay and most would probably feel that all-too-familiar sense of parental guilt when they find out their child has a cavity.

However, as tooth decay is almost entirely preventable in most cases, it was surprising to find during our research that so many parents accept it as a seemingly normal or inevitable part of childhood. It’s quite common for some parents to feel that primary teeth are less important than adult teeth because ‘they will fall out anyway’. While it’s true that milk teeth will fall out, here we look at some of the reasons why it’s just as important to protect your little ones’ pearly whites against tooth decay.

  • Positive dental experiences

    If a child has painful toothache, they may associate this with a negative experience of dental care, even if they visit a dentist who is brilliant with children and who treats the tooth decay painlessly. Childhood trauma and pain could establish fears of dental care or treatment into their adulthood and lead to them avoiding visiting the dentist.

Why milk teeth matter

Tooth decay is almost entirely preventable in most cases.

No parent would ever wish for their child to experience tooth decay.
  • Good habits for life and self-confidence

    It’s important that children learn to take care of teeth and understand how important they are. A good oral health routine in childhood makes it much more likely for them to continue these habits into teenage years and adulthood. A nice healthy smile is also very important for their self-confidence.

  • Toothache and concentration levels at school

    Young children with toothache may not realise where their pain is coming from and not mention anything until their tooth decay is quite advanced. Being in pain can disrupt their sleep and concentration at school, as well as making them more likely to be grizzly and not ‘themselves’ when at home. And every parent knows the golden importance of a happy child and a good night’s sleep!

  • Milk teeth guide the way for erupting adult teeth

    Primary teeth guide the developing adult teeth into position by holding the appropriate amount of space for the erupting tooth to grow into. Without this guide, adult teeth could drift into large empty spaces and cause alignment problems, which could increase the chances that your child needs braces when they’re older.

  • Eating

    It’s very important that children have a healthy diet and can eat a wide variety of foods. A child who has experienced severe tooth decay may need to have those teeth extracted and, if several teeth are missing at the same time, this could affect which foods they can chew. This may lead to them avoiding certain food groups and could affect the nutritional value of their meals.

  • Speech

    Some children are known chatterboxes and others need a lot more encouragement with their speech! Missing teeth through tooth decay/extractions could hinder very young children’s speech development, and in older children could cause temporary speech issues such as a lisp and possible subsequent confidence issues.

How to help your child to keep their primary/milk teeth healthy and reduce their chances of tooth decay



1. OnePoll survey of 2,000 UK adults conducted in February 2016

*Please note, as of February 2017, Denplan has rebranded as Simplyhealth Professionals. 

Published 21st July 2016

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