Do Dentists Fix Cavities For Baby Teeth
Your child’s first visit to their pediatric dentist should happen by their first birthday to ensure the health of their baby teeth and eventually their permanent teeth. If a toddler develops a cavity in a baby tooth, you may think it is not necessary to fix it but that couldn't be further from the truth! Tooth decay is a disease and it spreads very easily from tooth to tooth, including from baby teeth to permanent teeth. Left untreated, a cavity can eat through a baby tooth and make its way into the jaw to the permanent teeth that have not yet erupted.
How can cavities in baby teeth affect adult teeth?
Primary teeth are very important to a child's development. They help them learn how to speak and eat properly as well as provide a guide for their adult teeth to follow when they begin to push through. Leaving a cavity and a baby tooth untreated can result in more severe problems as a result of lack of treatment.
Baby teeth are thinner than adult teeth and require more attention during oral hygiene. A small cavity can quickly progress into a very large cavity and can even require root canal treatment and dental crowns. Untreated, an infection can develop causing pain and swelling. If a baby tooth is so infected that it falls out or has to be extracted, it can actually lead to orthodontic problems in the future, causing your child to need extensive orthodontic treatment.
Further Problems Resulting From Untreated Cavities
Baby teeth are an important part of your child's development with speech patterns. Untreated cavities can lead to problems with speech development, possibly causing speech impediments that can have a lasting effect on their self-confidence.
Untreated cavities in baby teeth can cause eating to be painful and uncomfortable. Your child may begin to avoid eating and this can affect their overall nutrition. A lot of healthy foods such as fresh fruits and vegetables can require a lot of chewing which can be difficult if your child has pain in their mouth.
Affecting Other Teeth
Tooth decay spreads very easily and can negatively affect surrounding healthy teeth. Severe decay can even spread to unerupted permanent teeth.
Children with discolored or missing teeth can have trouble with a poor self image if they feel their smile is not white and healthy and they may begin to avoid showing their teeth when they smile.
How do I know if my child has a cavity and how is it fixed?
There are a few signs to look for that can help you know if your child is suffering from dental decay which may include:
- Visible holes or pits
- Pain when they eat
Your child’s Pediatric Dentist will be able to spot any cavity formation and treat it to prevent it from growing and spreading. Treatments that their Dentist may advise include:
- Remineralization: This is a process that allows the tooth to repair itself and can happen if the cavity is small. Their Dentist will discuss this as an option if they believe that it is possible with minor changes in their oral care routine and diet.
- Fillings: A composite filling is the most common restorative option for minor tooth decay. Their Dentist will drill out the decay and fill the space with a tooth-colored composite material that is hardened and will strengthen the tooth.
- Crowns: If the decay is too extensive to be repaired with a filling, your child may require a crown to protect the integrity of the tooth. The decay is still drilled out but additionally, a small amount of enamel is removed to allow space for the crown.
If none of these are a viable option, your child's dentist may advise a root canal or even an extraction. If a cavity becomes so large that it reaches the nerve of the tooth, it can be very painful for your child.
Even though your child's primary teeth will eventually fall out, it is important to care for them just as you were their permanent teeth. Baby teeth play a vital role in their development and well-being so it is crucial to brush and floss their teeth and maintain regular dental check ups with their pediatric dentist as soon as their first tooth appears. This will instill a lifetime of healthy habits!