What Is the Function of Baby Teeth?

Many parents aren't aware of the function of baby teeth. With this in mind, the following article will tell you all you need to know.
What Is the Function of Baby Teeth?

Last update: 26 March, 2022

Baby teeth play a very important role in children’s health, from the moment they appear in the mouth until they fall out. The eruption of the first teeth is a very special moment, both for the baby and for their family, as it marks a milestone in their development. And even if they’re transitory elements, their care is essential for the well-being of little ones, Keep reading to learn more about the function of baby teeth and their role in children’s growth.

When do baby teeth come in?

Baby teeth begin to form in the baby’s mouth when the baby’s still inside the womb.

After birth, these pieces continue their development process inside the jawbones, but they only appear in the mouth around 6 months. However, the eruptive age depends on each child and their growth rate.

The first teeth to erupt are usually the lower jaw incisors, but the order of appearance also varies from child to child.

This process can be annoying or painful for some children and it’s common for them to become very irritable, anxious, or to drool excessively. However, these annoyances are usually easy to deal with simple strategies at home.

The emergence of baby teeth culminates around the age of 3, at which time the child has 20 teeth in their mouth: 8 incisors, 4 canines, and 8 molars.

A teething baby chewing on his finger.

The function of baby teeth

Many parents believe that baby teeth don’t fulfill any truly important function, as, after a while, they fall out to make way for the permanent ones. Some even view them as “disposable” teeth that don’t deserve a great deal of attention.

This belief isn’t only wrong but it’s also quite dangerous, as not taking care of children’s dental health increases the risk of suffering from certain oral diseases. In addition, the care and maintenance of temporary teeth is essential for the correct growth of the mouth.

Below, we’ll mention some of the most important functions that milk teeth fulfill.


This is a very important function for life, as the correct diet depends on it.

At first, the temporary pieces help the child to learn to chew. And, as the child grows, they can use this experience to make their feeding more complex.

Babies are usually ready to incorporate soft foods from 6 months. For this, they don’t need to have any teeth. However, the presence of the new teeth allows the little one to explore different textures in order to exercise chewing.

Although at that time, baby teeth aren’t essential in a child’s diet, they are a key part of this new learning. When a little one has mastered chewing, these pieces become a fundamental tool for incorporating all kinds of food.


Another very important function of milk teeth is their participation in the development of speech, as many phonemes require the presence of teeth in order to sound correct.

In this way, both the loss and the bad position of the teeth can interfere with the pronunciation of certain words. These difficulties translate into school problems, embarrassment, and lack of self-esteem in the child.

Jaw development and permanent teeth eruption guide

Baby teeth and their correct position favor the growth and development of the jaws. In addition, these pieces reserve the space necessary for the exit of the permanent ones. That is, they act as a guide in order for the final elements to erupt in the correct place.

This is why some conditions that cause premature loss of temporary teeth can lead to bite problems. Not keeping enough space increases the risk of the final teeth deviating or not even erupting.


Baby teeth also have an aesthetic function, which is often not taken into account. The presence of all teeth in the mouth improves the child’s appearance.

And although this function may seem unimportant for little ones, a healthy smile prevents teasing from other children and improves self-esteem.

How to take care of my baby teeth?

A mother helping her baby to brush his teeth.

As you’ve seen, baby teeth fulfill several important functions for children, and seeing to their care and their health is essential.

Oral hygiene should be done from the beginning, even before the teeth appear. At this time, you need to clean the baby’s gums and tongue with a clean, damp gauze.

After the first tooth comes in, you should start using a children’s toothbrush and a minimal amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Parents are responsible for performing dental hygiene on their children until they can do it themselves. You’ll then need to monitor the process to verify that the hygiene is effective.

In the same way, it’s essential that you control the diet of little ones. Eating a nutritious and healthy diet with a low sugar intake helps prevent cavities.

Finally, visiting the dentist before the first year of life is very important to ensure the care of these teeth. The dentist examines the health of the child, evaluates the growth and eruption of the teeth, and detects any problems in a timely manner. In addition, they advise adults regarding the best ways to take care of the mouth of little ones.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.