Alpharetta, GA – As a parent, you want to do what is best for your child. But when a cavity appears in one of your child’s baby teeth, you may find yourself asking why it should be repaired since that tooth is going to fall out anyway.
“It’s a question I hear all the time as a pediatric dentist,” says Dr. Nanna Ariaban. It may sound silly to repair a tooth that is just going to fall out anyway, but it is actually very important. Broken or decayed baby teeth can impair a child’s ability to chew and speak, which can then affect their confidence. But most importantly,
baby teeth have a direct impact on the permanent teeth.
Untreated baby teeth can affect the development of permanent teeth and can lead to more problems in the future. An untreated cavity can become painful, or even form an abscess that can lead to swelling and pain for your child.
Some parents may suggest simply pulling the baby tooth, rather than going through the work to repair it. Dr. Nanna advises against this in most cases.
“We can’t tell when teeth are going to fall out on their own,” says Dr. Nanna. “There is a pattern and general time frame in which teeth fall out naturally (Baby Teething and Tooth-Loss Stages,) but it’s a guess. Losing primary teeth too soon can affect how and when the permanent teeth come in. If a child loses a back tooth too early and then doesn’t have the proper follow-up treatment such as a space maintainer, the permanent teeth may erupt in the wrong locations. This can lead to more dental and orthodontic work in the future.”
So saving and repairing a baby tooth today, might actually save you in the future.
If a baby tooth has decayed, a filling will be recommended to properly repair it and prevent the further spread of decay. For cases of advanced decay, a crown or cap may be required to properly repair the tooth. And if your child is complaining of a toothache in the decayed tooth, it might be an indication the nerve has been affected. In this case, a pulpotomy will need to be performed to remove the decay and affected nerve.
To prevent decay, introduce a healthy oral care routine at a young age. While still a baby, be sure to wipe the child’s mouth with a clean cloth after every feeding and introduce a toothbrush after the first tooth has erupted.
For older children, be sure they brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste and floss daily. Maintain regular check-ups with your dentist, and ensure your child eats a healthy, well-balanced diet. Good home prevention is the first step to preventing childhood tooth decay.
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