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If your child is losing their baby teeth and starting to grown permanent ones, you may find yourself wondering why we have baby teeth in the first place if they’re just going to fall out. However, baby teeth are actually very important for oral health over a lifetime.

Baby teeth, also known as primary teeth, are already developed when an infant is born. They rest under the gum line until they start to erupt when an infant is between 6 and 12 months of age. All 20 primary teeth should be visible by the time they are 3 years old.

A child must have primary teeth because their mouth is too small to hold all of the permanent teeth. Adults have 8 more teeth than children, and that’s not including wisdom teeth. One of the purposes of baby teeth is that they hold places for the permanent teeth to grow into. Baby teeth also help a child chew food and speak.

Even though baby teeth will fall out, it is still important to care for them. If a child has tooth decay with their baby teeth then they are more likely to develop tooth decay with permanent teeth. Additionally, if a child needs a primary tooth extracted because of decay, then the permanent tooth will no longer have its placeholder, which can result in crowded or crooked teeth. Dental health is important for all ages.