Cavities are the number one most common chronic childhood disease in the U.S. in kids of all ages. Though cavities can be prevented with proper at-home oral hygiene and regular dental visits, over half of all kids have gotten at least one cavity in a baby tooth.
But do you really need to get your child a filling if they have a cavity in their baby tooth? Baby teeth are meant to fall out anyway, right? Can you skip treatment and wait for their adult tooth to grow in? The answer is “no.” Read on, and find out why.
If your child has a cavity in their baby tooth, it needs to be filled as soon as possible with very few exceptions. Just like a tooth decay in an adult tooth, a cavity in a baby tooth can seriously compromise the structure of their tooth.
This can also lead to a tooth infection. Tooth infections happen when the outer layers of your child’s baby tooth are eaten away by a cavity, exposing the delicate pulp inside the tooth to oral bacteria. If this pulp becomes infected and you don’t get treatment for your child, this can lead to the premature loss of their baby tooth, which is a serious issue.
If your child has only very minor tooth decay, it may sometimes be possible to halt and reverse the cavity with fluoride treatments. Or, if your child’s cavity is small and the tooth is about to fall out naturally, Dr. Joseph Blalock may recommend skipping a filling. But in almost all cases, your child will need to get a filling if they have a cavity in their baby tooth.
So, why should you get your child a filling when their baby teeth fall out anyway? The short answer is that your child still needs to keep all of their teeth, even if they will eventually fall out. Your child will have all of their baby teeth by the age of about three years, and the last baby teeth usually won’t fall out until they're 12-13 years old.
That means that your little one will have some of their baby teeth for nearly a decade. If you don’t fill a cavity in a baby tooth, your child may experience lots of pain and discomfort, and the tooth could become infected and require extraction. While baby teeth are meant to fall out on their own, they will only do so once an adult tooth is ready to emerge and replace the baby tooth, so early tooth extraction is never a good thing.
If your child loses a tooth early due to a tooth infection, this can negatively affect their oral health and development, and Dr. Blalock will need to place a space maintainer in the area where their tooth used to be. This prosthetic helps keep their teeth separated, and prevents teeth from shifting after early baby tooth loss.
Whether you’re worried that your child may have a cavity in one of their baby teeth or you’re just looking to get them in for a six-month checkup, Dr. Blalock and the team at Lakeside Dental are here to help. As a childrens dentist in Lenoir City, we offer a child-friendly office and expert care for little smiles. Kids of all ages are always welcome, so contact us online or give us a call at (865) 635-4999 to schedule your child’s consultation today.