A child’s primary (or baby) teeth are an important factor in many parts of overall development. Establishing a dental home and routine at an early age helps prevent costly and painful dental problems. Sometimes, despite our best efforts a child needs dental treatment for a cavity. As a pediatric dentist my goal is to complete treatment in the least invasive and traumatic way possible. Parents sometimes ask me why it is important to fix them because they are ‘just baby teeth’. There are many reasons why repairing a tooth is preferable to letting an active infection remain in your child’s mouth. Here are the top 3 questions I get from parents when discussing fixing a cavity.
Q: Why fix it if it’s going to fall out?
That tooth might have longer to function than you realize! Typically a child will get their first tooth between the ages of 4-7 months old. Teeth continue to erupt until approximately 24 months of age. Teeth start falling out around 6 years old, but molars don’t fall out until closer to 11 years old. If a cavity is found in a young child, it could be 5+ years before that tooth is due to fall out!
Q: Why fix it now? It’s not hurting them
When we can find a cavity early – before pain – it is often smaller and easier to fix. A cavity is an infection in the tooth caused by bacteria. Pain is often a sign of the infection reaching the nerve. By waiting for something to hurt we run the risk of not being able to fix the tooth at all due to the size of the cavity. Why wait until your child is in pain to fix something? We all know dental pain can be quite severe, so avoiding that is in your child’s best interest.
Q: Can’t you just take it out?
While it might seem like the easy answer, extracting a tooth earlier than it is meant to fall out can lead to other problems. Whenever possible it is better to have a natural tooth holding it’s space for the adult tooth to come in properly.
Ultimately regular brushing and flossing as well as a healthy diet go a long way to keep teeth healthy. When a cavity does happen it’s much easier to tackle it when small. Treatment is often quicker and less invasive when we catch a cavity in its early stage. Keeping up to date with dental visits will help your kids have healthy smiles and set them up for dental health as young adults and beyond. At Wilton Pediatric Dentistry we believe in a conservative approach to dental care that helps build trust and confidence in the dental chair.
Dr. Ashleigh Sebro is a Board-Certified pediatric dentist as well as the owner and founder of Wilton Pediatric Dentistry. She is committed to providing gentle and compassionate dental care to children with the hopes of creating a generation who is not scared of the dentist. Dr. Sebro has been recognized as one of the top 40 under 40 dentists in America for her dedication to pediatric dental health and her focus on prevention.