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Take Steps to Save an Incoming Tooth's Place to Avoid a Poor Bite

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At your child's latest dental visit, you found out one of their primary (“baby”) teeth has become decayed and in danger of loss. Of course, you may think, it's only a primary tooth — it's going to come out sooner or later.

But a primary tooth lost “sooner” rather than “later” can create long-term negative consequences for your child's dental health. For the sake of the future permanent tooth, the best treatment strategy could be to put forth the effort and expense to save it.

Besides its role in eating and chewing, a primary tooth's most important function is as a “trailblazer” for the permanent tooth developing below it. A primary tooth doesn't normally loosen and let go until the new permanent tooth is ready to erupt. Until then they hold the new tooth's space in the jaw.

But if the primary tooth is lost prematurely, nearby teeth can drift into and crowd the space so that the permanent tooth comes in out of position. This can result in a malocclusion, or poor bite.

Depending on the state of your child's jaw development, it may be advisable to attempt saving the tooth through a filling or, in the case of deep decay, a modified root canal treatment. If the tooth can't be saved, then placing an orthodontic appliance known as a space maintainer might be necessary. Cemented to a tooth next to the empty space, this appliance has a looped band of metal that butts against the tooth on the other side of the gap, and prevents both teeth from drifting into the space.

Intervening for a decayed primary tooth can seem a waste of time and money since it has a limited lifespan to begin with. But for the health of its companion permanent tooth, as well as possibly avoiding orthodontic treatment, it could be well worth it for your child's long-term dental health.

If you would like more information on dental care for your child, please contact us or schedule an appointment for a consultation. You can also learn more about this topic by reading the Dear Doctor magazine article “Importance of Baby Teeth.”

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  • "Hands down the best dentist I’ve ever been to. Dr Damelio is a master of his trade and the dental hygienists were the nicest and most professional I’ve ever dealt with. I would recommend this place to anyone!"
    Alex O.
  • "I had a great experience at my first appointment with Dr. Damelio and my hygienist Cally. The office is clean, staff is friendly and you can tell they really care about their patients!"
    Kyle C.
  • "Dr. Damelio has been exceeding my expectations ever since we first met them. Everyone is wonderful to work with and have great communication."
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  • "Dr. Damelio has an awesome team working with him. They all work very well together to make your visit efficient and productive. They are great at making the experience painless and I have nothing but compliments for the entire practice."
    Matt A.
  • "My children and I are always treated very well at Dr. Damelio's. The care is excellent. The staff is the best. We all enjoy going there very much."
    Carla P.
  • "Dr Damelio is competent, courteous, friendly and he has trained his staff in that mode. Everybody know your name and greets you upon coming. They out of their way to schedule to meet your convenience. Everyone knows their role and they do it well. It is a pleasure, an an honor, to have Dr. Damelio as my dentist."
    Jerry M.
  • "I have always had a tremendous phobia of the dentist growing up but things changed after I went to Dr. Steve. I had a few bad experiences in the past but after going to Dr. Steven Damelio they have completely gone away. I have never had a minute of pain and the staff are really great they are the best."
    Jim S.
  • "I love the friendly staff at Steven G. Damelio, DMD. I always leave this dentist office with my teeth looking great."
    Jamiee L.
  • "I always have an excellent experience at Dr. Damelio's office. Everyone is so nice and they have a great staff, keep up the good work."
    Brett M.
  • "I recently had a dental issue that needed quick attention. Dr. Damelio's staff was excellent. They worked with me and got me right in to the office for an appointment. Dr. Damelio gave me his full time and attention and was able to take care of the problem quickly and painlessly. I think this is a great dental practice and recommend Dr. Damelio to all of my friends."
    Megan M.
  • "Everyone at Dr. Damelio's office always so professional and friendly. Dr. Damelio always takes the time to explain everything and puts me at ease. I know I'm receiving the best care at each of my visits."
    Bonnie T.
  • "My family has been patients of Steven Damelio for a few years. My children and I are always treated very well. The care is excellent and the staff is top-notch. We all enjoy going to see Dr. Damelio."
    Lana B.
  • "I love coming to see Dr. Damelio. Everyone is so welcoming and friendly, it totally eliminates the fear of of being at teh dentist. Dr Damelio also performs his work so well that I never feel pain and I am rarely in any discomfort. I highly recommend them for sure."
    Coleen M.