How Important is it to Treat Your Child’s Tooth Decay?

As parents, it’s natural to wonder why a child needs to have a cavity filled, especially if it’s in a baby tooth. “Won’t that tooth eventually fall out?” you ask. Yes, it will.

But there are some very important reasons why your family or pediatric dentist will want to preserve that primary tooth for as long as possible.

Spread of Infection to Other Teeth

Baby teeth decay very rapidly. A small cavity in one tooth today could be two decaying teeth at your child’s next dental checkup. Additionally, that same cavity can spread through the tooth down toward the developing permanent tooth underneath. Getting a small filling now could keep all of that from happening.

Pulling the Tooth Isn’t the Best Option…Here’s Why:

A natural reaction to managing a severely decayed baby tooth is to request that your child’s dentist pull it out instead of repairing it. If it’s going to fall out anyway, why not go ahead and have it removed?

In reality, prematurely losing that tooth will drastically affect the developmental characteristics and alignment of your child’s teeth and jaws. Baby teeth act as placeholders and guides for the permanent teeth that will one day replace them. If a tooth is lost a year or two sooner than it should, the open space left behind can jeopardize how all of the teeth in that area align with one another. You may not know it now, but that one missing tooth could lead to a couple of years’ worth of orthodontic treatment once your child gets into high school.

If your child does have to lose a tooth for some reason, a space maintenance device will be absolutely necessary.

Dangerous Medical Emergencies

From time to time, severely infected teeth can put children in the hospital. Dental abscesses have been known to spread deeper into the face and even the brain, potentially risking your child’s life. Unfortunately, this risk isn’t something that naturally comes to your mind until your child is in severe pain and being taken to the emergency room.

Early Diagnosis = Less Invasive Treatment

Keeping your child’s dental checkups every six months allows his or her dentist to spot the development of cavities or weak tooth enamel as early as possible. The sooner these issues are intercepted, the less invasive (and more affordable) they are to treat.

A small filling, sealant, or fluoride may be all that’s necessary to keep decay from spreading from one baby tooth to the next. It’s not too late to go ahead and schedule a dental checkup!

About the Author

I am a family dentist who treats children as well as adults. Making smiles people love, extreme makeovers and complex dental reconstruction is our niche including implants, TMJ, orthodontics and cosmetic dentistry. As a participant in the blog, I will be offering dental perspectives on pediatric safety and health care options on a regular basis. I can be reached at Blessings to all! Dr Williams is a member of the PedSafe Expert team


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