When told their child needs fillings on baby teeth, many parents ask us if it’s really necessary, considering the teeth will fall out anyway. While we understand the concept of treating a tooth that will fall out seems strange and unnecessary, it’s actually very important.
Baby teeth will be in your child’s mouth for up to 12 years, depending on how fast or slow your child loses their teeth. If your child develops a cavity when they are very young, for example two or three, this cavity could potentially be in their mouth for a number of years, worsening and decaying further.
A dental cavity can be viewed as an infection – if left untreated, it will worsen. Baby teeth enamel is much weaker than adult teeth enamel and therefore can decay a lot more rapidly. The pulp chamber in baby teeth is much closer to the surface of the tooth, and is less protected.
This means that even a small hole can quickly infect the pulp chamber of the tooth. The pulp chamber is essentially the nerve chamber of a tooth and once infected, must be removed through a pulpotomy procedure.
This involves drilling into the tooth, and cleaning out all of the infected pulp from the tooth, then covering the tooth with a silver crown. This is a major dental procedure and can be stressful for kids. Dental decay is almost completely avoidable – with a controlled diet and with regular thorough brushing and flossing.
If left unfilled, baby teeth can decay through to the nerve chamber, causing pain and infection for your child. This infection and deep decay can even affect the new adult tooth growing underneath. This means that your child’s future adult teeth can be damaged by decay in their baby teeth.
It’s crucial to teach children to take care of their teeth from as early on as possible. We promote the prevention of dental cavities and complications, especially from a young age. Ensure you are helping your child brush their teeth morning and night until they are very dexterous and coordinated and can effectively brush each of their teeth. Encourage flossing from a young age so this becomes part of your child’s routine – that way it won’t seem like a chore when they are told by the dentist to start flossing.
With regular half yearly check ups and thorough home care, there is no reason why your child’s teeth should ever need fillings. However if your dentist recommends a filling on a baby tooth, it’s highly unadvisable to ignore this.