If baby teeth are not lost in the correct order or if a baby tooth is lost and is not replaced by a permanent one within three months, there could be several issues that an orthodontist should address:
- Crowding: Baby teeth preserve space for adult teeth until they are ready to erupt.So if baby teeth fall out too early, space can be lost in the mouth and it can cause crowding of the underlying adult ones. Similarly, if baby teeth fall out too late, this can force the underlying adult ones to come in crooked. In contrast, some adult teeth may come in before the baby teeth are gone creating what can appear to be two rows of teeth and crowding in some areas in the mouth. If either of these happen, it is a good time to see an orthodontist.
- Premature tooth loss: It is possible for a baby tooth to fall out before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt. In such cases, a spacer/space maintainer is often put in the location where the baby tooth fell out prematurely to preserve the space for the adult tooth and to prevent future crowding problems. In general, if a child loses any teeth before the age of 4, an orthodontist should be consulted.
- Late tooth loss: Some children may reach the age of 8 without losing any teeth and in such cases, there may be nothing wrong, but an orthodontist should be consulted and take an X-ray to evaluate the situation.
- Missing teeth: A baby tooth typically does not loosen until the permanent tooth below pushes it up to take its place. As a result, if a child is missing some permanent teeth this process will not occur in certain locations in the mouth.
- Extra Teeth: When this occurs, it can block the natural eruption process of the regular adult teeth. Seeing an orthodontist would be an important step towards having a healthy set of adult teeth!
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