Have you ever been told that your child needs a filling? One of the most common questions that parents ask is why bother filling a baby tooth if it’s just going to fall out anyway? Our kids dentist in Vista wants you to know that even if a baby tooth is only going to be there for another year or two, kids dental fillings can play a crucial role in your child’s future smile.
Decay in Baby Teeth
Tooth decay (cavities) are bacterial infections in teeth. They are essentially the side effect of acid erosion caused by bacterial plaque on the surface of a tooth. Too much erosion and an opening or “cavity” is created in the enamel.
The bad news about cavities in baby teeth is that those teeth are less dense than adult ones. Because one day they will shrink away, fall out, and be replaced with a permanent tooth. When they get cavities, it’s easier for the decay to quickly spread throughout the tooth at a faster pace than decay in adult teeth.
Left untreated, the decay will cause abscessed teeth or “jump” to neighboring, healthy teeth. The best thing to do for your child is to treat the cavity as quickly as possible.
Pulling a Baby Tooth Because of Cavities
Is it better to extract a baby tooth if it has a large cavity? Not necessarily. Removing a tooth prematurely can create a chain reaction that impacts your child’s smile for decades to come.
Since baby teeth act as placeholders in tooth alignment and eruption patterns, extracting one may jeopardize normal tooth placement. As a result, teeth can become crowded, crooked, or adult teeth impacted (failing to erupt all the way.)
In rare situations where a filling or crown may not be appropriate, removing a tooth may be the only solution. In those cases, our pediatric dentist will install a space maintainer to hold that area open until the adult tooth erupts into place.
Since cavities continue to expand if left untreated, it poses a serious health risk to young children. Aggressive areas of decay can allow infection to spread into your child’s face—or in rare instances—even their brain, requiring hospitalization and IV antibiotics. It can literally be life-threatening.
When your child is in pain or loses teeth too early, it can pose serious self-confidence issues and changes in their speech development. We can help your child enjoy a healthy smile starts by providing routine screenings and regular checkups from the time their first tooth comes in.
Which Filling is Best for Teeth (Pediatric)?
Usually, we recommend white, composite dental fillings for baby teeth. Since composite bonds closely with tooth enamel, it helps limit the size of your child’s dental filling. A more conservative filling helps preserve as much healthy tooth structure as possible. If the filling is larger, there’s a greater chance the tooth could break during normal biting and chewing. For large cavities, a crown may be best.
How often should fillings be replaced in baby teeth? Typically, never. The goal is to place quality, minimally-invasive fillings that can function until the tooth falls out on its own. We can let you know how much dental filling costs are affected by insurance, size of the cavity, etc.
If you want to know, “how does a dental filling work to prevent spread of decay?”, it’s because we remove all of the damaged areas and the bacteria in that space. However, lifestyle changes such as diet and oral hygiene will also need to be considered.
Kids Dental Fillings in Vista
All Smiles Children’s Dentistry offers quality, gentle pediatric dentistry services for children of all ages. If you suspect that your child has a cavity—or you just want a second opinion—contact our pediatric dentist today to reserve an exam.