Do Dentists Fix Cavities for Baby Teeth?
It is relatively common for parents to take their child to a pediatric dentist and discover that they have a cavity in one of their baby teeth. A common follow up question parents have is if they can just let the cavity go rather than filling it because it will eventually fall out.
Primary or baby teeth actually play a very important role. They should be cared for and treated just like the permanent teeth. Baby teeth aid children in properly eating and speaking. The baby teeth also help to ensure the permanent teeth remain healthy and properly erupt. As a result of this, cavities in the baby teeth should be filled. As always, there can be some exceptions to this general rule.
When a cavity is small, there is a possibility that it will repair itself through the remineralization process. When cavities are detected early, a pediatric dentist can provide parents with tips and instructions to aid in preventing the cavity from growing. These instructions typically include good oral hygiene and a well-balanced diet for the child.
If it is determined by the pediatric dentist that the baby tooth is close to falling out, it will likely need to be filled. If the child is old enough that they will likely not have the tooth for long, the dentist may opt to allow the tooth to fall out on its own.
In a 2014 report conducted by the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists, data suggested that about 60% of U.S. children will experience some level of tooth decay before the age of 5. The report also stated that when decay was left untreated, it could lead to infection, challenges with chewing, and even malnutrition. In other studies, children who had dental decay were often found to experience difficulty in school related to the associated pain.
Not long ago, children would have their first dental visit when they were a few years old and had a mouthful of teeth. However, the rate of childhood dental caries was continuing to increase. As a result, dental professionals now recommend that children visit a pediatric dentist before their first birthday. This allows pediatric dentists to work with parents and develop good oral hygiene habits, provide education on a good diet, and monitor the teeth for early intervention as needed. These early appointments also allow the parents to discuss any childhood habits with the pediatric dentist such as bottles, pacifiers, and thumb sucking.
So why is it important to repair teeth which will eventually fall out? In short, this is because tooth decay is a disease. Decay is caused by specific germs which can easily spread and cause long-term problems. In cases of severe decay on the baby teeth, it can result in damage to the permanent teeth prior to erupting.
Primary or baby teeth are actually a different consistency and thinner compared to the secondary adult teeth. Because of this, there should be additional attention on brushing, flossing and oral care. The unique structure of the baby teeth also allow cavities to quickly progress and result in the need for a root canal or crown. When cavities are left untreated, the can turn into a dental infection which causes serious pain and swelling.
Another reason the baby teeth are so important is because they aid in guiding the development and positioning of the adult teeth. When primary teeth need to be pulled or have severe decay causing them to fall out, it can result in orthodontic issues. This can require longer orthodontic treatments or require braces for a child who would otherwise not need them.
Work with your pediatric dentist to determine the best treatment plan for your child. Baby teeth should be cared for to ensure the child has a lifetime of good oral health.