Is it Normal for Baby Teeth to Have Cavities?
It is relatively common for a parent to hear from the pediatric dentist that their child has a cavity, or perhaps multiple cavities. In some cases, the decay may have progressed to a degree which requires extraction of the tooth. It is easy and tempting for parents to feel defensive, especially if their child is regularly brushing and has a well-balanced diet.
Dentists often find that children are not flossing. This can allow cavities to form between the teeth. Once a cavity develops, it easily spreads throughout the mouth. When multiple teeth are effected, the cavities can be filled or an extraction can be completed in the dental office over the course of a few visits. The pediatric dentist can use anesthetic shots or nitrous oxide if needed. When the amount of work is extensive, the dentist may suggest completing all the procedures in one setting under a general anesthesia.
When parents opt to have multiple cavities filled for their child in the dental office over the course of a few visits, they may regret this decision. It can be difficult to watch the child struggle and ultimately refuse the treatment.
Most pediatric dentists and dental professionals suggest that children should visit the dentist before their first birthday. Unfortunately, cavities are quite common in younger children. According to a 2014 report from the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, about 60 percent of U.S. children will experience tooth decay before they are five years old. When tooth decay is not treated in a timely manner, it can progress to serious infection, chewing difficulties, or malnutrition. In severe cases of tooth decay, abscesses can develop which can impact the development of the permanent adult teeth.
The same report mentioned above found that there are also significant socioeconomic factors at play. According to the report, children between 2 and 9 who are living in poverty are twice as likely to have tooth decay and cavities are twice as likely to remain untreated compared to more affluent children.
As a result of the serious health problems that pediatric cavities can create, many parents opt to bring their children to the dentist around age 2. Many pediatric dentists encourage scheduling a child’s first appointment when the first teeth erupt or when the child turns one.
In the past, parents were encouraged to make their child’s first dental appointment when they were a toddler. However, a toddler with many cavities is a serious issue. It can be traumatic for the child to have multiple appointments and invasive procedures during as their initial visits to the dentist. In addition, the treatment can take a long time to complete.
Ultimately, tooth decay is disease and should be taken seriously. The primary teeth in the front of the mouth will be present until the child is about 6. Baby molars will be present even longer, and typically fall out when the child is about 10. Young children with multiple cavities could experience years of pain and issues.
Early intervention is critical. Scheduling a child’s first dental appointment early gives the pediatric dentist amble time to discuss healthy habits and good oral hygiene for the child. This also gives the dentist to discuss brushing, flossing juice consumption, eating sugary snacks, and late use bottle.