Baby teeth are important. They serve two major functions: first, they’re necessary for your child to chew and speak; second, they serve another very important purpose — they save space for your child’s future permanent teeth.
A baby tooth usually remains in your child’s mouth until a permanent tooth underneath it is ready to emerge through the gums. The roots of the baby tooth dissolve and the tooth becomes loose and falls out. A few weeks later, you’ll see the permanent tooth poke through. Occasionally, a baby tooth can come out too early — or can be accidentally knocked out – and a space maintainer can be installed by your pediatric dentist. The purpose is to take the place of the baby tooth until the permanent tooth is ready to emerge.
If teeth on either side of the open space encroach upon the empty space, there may not be room for the permanent tooth. The new permanent tooth may erupt out of its proper position and can affect positioning of other teeth. If teeth become crowded and out of alignment with each other, then the teeth are maloccluded. Maloccluded teeth are difficult to clean, have greater chances of decay, and later might require expensive and time-consuming orthodontic treatment.