Why do I need to have cavities filled in my child’s baby teeth? Your dentist may have informed you that your child has one or more cavities that need to be filled. But if the cavities are on baby teeth, and those baby teeth will fall out eventually, why do they need to be filled?
While the first primary (baby) teeth may become loose and fall out at an average age of 6 years old, the primary molars tend to stay in the mouth until ages 10-13 years. During this time, the permanent (adult) teeth are developing in the jaw bones beneath the baby teeth. If tooth decay is allowed to grow in a baby tooth, your child may experience pain or even infection. This infection could even affect the nearby developing permanent tooth. Infection, if left untreated, can be dangerous to your child’s overall health.
Tooth decay grows much faster in primary (baby) teeth than it does in adult teeth. This is why we tend to adopt a more proactive approach to treating cavities in baby teeth, rather than waiting to reassess at a later appointment. What was once a small, easily treatable cavity, can quickly become a large lesion requiring treatment beyond a simple filling.
You may ask why we do not opt to simply remove decayed baby teeth, since they will eventually fall out. Baby teeth serve many important functions–they are, of course, important for speech and for eating, but also serve as space maintainers for the coming adult teeth. Losing a baby tooth too early without proper space maintenance can result in shifting of the teeth and crowding of the adult teeth, requiring more complicated orthodontic treatment in the future.
At Leaside Dentistry, we are very comfortable treating children of all ages. Our operatories are equipped with television screens and we offer satellite or Netflix for children to watch during treatment. For children with mild anxiety toward dental treatment, we can offer the use of nitrous oxide, or “laughing gas”, to alleviate any stress and make treatment easier. As well, both of our dentists are moms to young children…so we know all their tricks!
Written by Dr. Jennifer Hittner