Why do Cavities in Baby Teeth Need to be Filled?
One of the most common questions we hear at Westlake Pediatric Dentistry is, “If my child’s baby tooth has a cavity, why does it need a filling if it’s going to fall out anyway?” Although there are occasional times — like when the tooth is about to fall out — where Dr. Kyle Raymond may recommend leaving the tooth alone, the standard of care is to treat the cavities in baby teeth. Here are just a few reasons why:
Baby Teeth Can Become Abscessed
Cavities can expand quite quickly in baby teeth. When they do, it’s simply a matter of time before the decay reaches the nerve inside of the tooth. At that point, the tooth can abscess. It’s important that you don’t use pain as a determining factor for treatment, because an abscessed tooth is dying and may not exhibit pain in some cases. But in rare circumstances, abscesses can pose serious life-threatening illnesses (such as brain infections) in children, requiring hospitalization. The better choice is to treat the cavity before it grows larger.
The Decay Can Spread to Adjacent Teeth
Tooth decay can “jump” from one tooth to another. So, if a baby tooth has decay but isn’t treated promptly, the adjacent tooth may also have a cavity by the time your child is due for their next checkup. Infections can also spread down through the baby tooth into the developing permanent tooth below it. Essentially, creating a chain reaction throughout your child’s entire mouth. That’s why early dental care can help set your child up for better oral health as an adult!
Consequences of Losing the Tooth too Early
“Why not just pull it?”
We hear that question a lot, too. But extracting a baby tooth too early can also lead to a chain reaction of complications. Your child’s surrounding smile needs that tooth as a placeholder and guide. Premature tooth loss can cause adjacent teeth to tilt inward, blocking the permanent tooth below it. In turn, your child’s orofacial anatomy is altered. A few years down the road, you’re having to consider major orthodontic correction. The better solution is to maintain healthy growth patterns and preserve the guide for the developing adult tooth.
Dental Fillings for Kids
We recommend bringing your child to our Austin office every six months for a routine checkup. If Dr. Kyle Raymond identifies early signs of decay, we can intercept it while the cavity is still small. In fact, demineralization (before the cavity forms) can also be reversed!
If your child does need a filling, it’s best to place a small one before the decay has a chance to spread. Most of our pediatric dental fillings are made of white composite, which is minimally invasive and bonds better to the tooth. We also offer gentle nitrous oxide sedation to help your child feel relaxed; chances are, they may not even realize what’s going on.
Has it been six months or longer since your child’s last dental appointment? Call Westlake Pediatric Dentistry today to schedule their next exam and cleaning.