I have a 12 inch Hitachi miter saw. I make toys and cut many small parts on my miter saw. I use zero clearance for the fence and the table. It makes a big difference in my work, and I would not work without it.
Zero clearance keeps small pieces from flying all over the place, falling into the saw, or getting damaged. Zero clearance on the fence side prevents tear-out on the backside of the piece.
I use some hold down for most cuts, so the wood does not move. I do a scoring cut from back to front, then cut from front to back at full depth and let the blade come to a complete stop before raising it. I get very smooth cuts, nearly zero tear-out, no damaged parts, and if I do my part, the cuts are as square as I can get buy any method.
I use a Diablo 80 tooth fine finish blade.