If you just got news of a cavity at your little one’s dentist appointment, you might be wondering, do baby teeth really need fillings? Won’t they eventually fall out anyway? But there are some serious reasons to fix cavities in teeth that aren’t permanent. Here are some reasons you can feel good about scheduling that filling appointment for your child.
- Untreated Cavities can Cause More Cavities
- Decay can Spread Within the Tooth
- Tooth Pain can Cause Trouble at Home and School
#1 Untreated Cavities can Cause More Cavities
Cavities are caused by bacteria in plaque that sticks to teeth. These bacteria produce acid that wears down the enamel. A cavity is a hole in the tooth’s enamel.
The same bacteria that has caused one cavity can easily be transferred to nearby teeth. If the bacteria and decay isn’t cleaned out by a proper cleaning and filling, more teeth can be targeted by that bacteria.
In fact, the teeth don’t even have to be in your child’s mouth! Tooth decay can spread between people by sharing eating utensils, kissing, coughing, and sneezing. Maintaining proper oral hygiene, covering coughs and sneezes, and not sharing food and drinks can help keep your and your loved one’s teeth healthy and strong.
#2 Decay Can Spread Within the Tooth
Unfortunately, untreated cavities grow in size. Depending on a person’s situation, decay can reach the root in as little as three to six months.
Once bacteria has created a hole in the enamel, it won’t stop there. Decay will eventually spread throughout the tooth. After penetrating the enamel, the next layer to be affected is the dentin. Decay at this stage usually begins to hurt. A dentist can still repair this damage with a filling.
Beyond the dentin, untreated decay can make its way to the center of the tooth called the pulp. An infection this deep causes a constant toothache, since the infection begins to affect the blood vessels and nerves of the tooth. A root canal must be done at this point to save the tooth.
The last stage is an abscessed tooth, when the infection has gone all the way to the tip of the root nerve. The infection can now pass to the facial bones. The dentist may have to remove the tooth.
#3 Tooth Pain can Cause Trouble at Home and School
It’s estimated that 20% of children between the ages of 5 and 11 have at least one untreated tooth that is decaying. Tooth decay is hard to spot but can cause serious pain. Paint from untreated cavities can disrupt sleep, make chewing and speaking difficult, and even inhibit learning at school.
The Good News!
The good news is that cavities are easily treatable. Pediatric dentists are specially trained to care for their young patients and their unique dental needs. At the appointment, the dentist will remove the decay and fill the cavity with tooth-colored composite. Most children handle the appointment well.
You can feel good going to the appointment to get the cavity filled knowing that you are saving your child a lot of grief by treating the problem while it’s still small. Catching and filling cavities when they’re small is better than delaying treatment, only to have a bigger, tougher problem to face later.
Pediatric Dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin
If your child needs a check-up and cleaning or has a toothache you’d like us to take a look at, please contact our offices today. Affiliated Dentists offers pediatric dentistry in Madison, Wisconsin.
Do Baby Teeth Really Need Fillings? brought to you by Dr. Mark Gustavson