It’s a routine visit to the dentist for your 6-year-old; however, today for the first time we notice some cavities in his/her mouth! A very common question that is then discussed with parents is, ‘do they need the fillings on those teeth if they are just going to fall out?’
The answer is YES (most of the time)! But why?!
Baby teeth (primary teeth) are just as important, if not more important, for the proper development of speech, eating skills, and for the proper spacing/eruption of permanent teeth. If a child were to have a large cavity on his/her tooth that causes any discomfort or even breaks, this tooth would need to be removed and could affect the spacing and eruption of the permanent teeth growing in behind that primary tooth! Essentially baby teeth act as space holders for the adult teeth.
Treatment of cavities in a child’s teeth
Now, there are many factors that come into play when determining what the next step of treatment will be. First, we think of the child’s age and which tooth/teeth the cavity is present on. If the cavity is on a tooth that is going to come out over the next few days/weeks, then a lot of times the dentist will continue to ‘watch’ that tooth until it falls out on it’s own or the tooth may be recommended for extraction depending on how large the cavity is. However, if the cavity is on a tooth that is going to stay put for a longer period of time (i.e. a year or longer), then fillings on kids or further treatment should be completed.
Second, we also look at the size of the cavity. If the cavity is small in the outer portion of the tooth called the enamel, there is a chance that the tooth can remineralize on its own and monitoring the small cavity is recommended. This is usually accomplished by really focusing on the child’s oral home care as well as their food and drink regimen. If large enough and the cavity has gone beyond the enamel of the tooth into the inner part called the dentin, then that tooth will need to have a filling, and sometimes even larger treatment (i.e. a crown) to maintain the tooth as long as possible!
Needless to say, no one wants to find a cavity in their child’s mouth. Therefore, focusing on oral hygiene with the child, starting good cleaning habits young, and also watching his/her diet with food and drink, are all ways that can help prevent decay from even starting in the first place! However, if cavities are found, it’s not the end of the world, but it is very important to maintain these primary teeth as long as possible in order to allow for the proper development of your child’s permanent teeth!
Contact us today if you’re looking for a new dentist for your children! Our team of dentists and hygienists are great with kids and would love to help establish a healthy routine for their dental care. Call us at 717.737.4337 to schedule an appointment for your children at our Camp Hill office.