As an oral surgeon, I want to share with you a question I often get asked, “Why should I keep my baby teeth when I don’t have a permanent tooth to replace it?” I think that’s a great question. It really does depend on your age but the most important thing is that that baby tooth is filling in a space. If you remove that baby tooth, then what will happen is that the orthodontist either has to close up that space or we have to do something to keep that space open so that the eventual tooth that’s supposed to occupy that space can go in. If you’re not 19 or 20 years of age, we have to be really careful about replacing that tooth because your face is still growing. If we were to place a dental implant while your face is still growing, it won’t grow with you. It will stay exactly where it is because your body doesn’t know that it needs to allow it to grow. At this point, we would have to redo that procedure and start all over again which is not what you want.
If we can avoid that situation by letting you keep the baby tooth, it will work like a space filler, preserving the bone and gum tissue and allows us to replace that tooth when your face is done growing. Now, if that baby tooth is affecting the gum tissue, affecting the bone, or starting to break, we may need to remove that tooth and look at some of the other alternatives. Those alternatives are things you can talk with your dentist about. But the takehome here is that if you can keep that baby tooth for as long as possible, it only helps you.