toddler brushes baby teeth to avoid cavities

Why Baby Teeth Need Fillings

5 Reasons Why Baby Teeth Need Fillings

It’s tempting to ignore a cavity in a baby tooth.  We get it.  After all, baby teeth are just going to fall out eventually, so what does it matter? We hear this question often in our pediatric dental office. The risks of leaving a decaying baby tooth untreated are real and serious, though.  Likewise, pulling a baby tooth prematurely isn’t without negative consequences, either. Thus, arresting the decay is the best option, either through the use of a filling or SDF (Silver Diamine Fluoride). Below are five main reasons why baby teeth need need attention when decay strikes, along with two options we offer.

1. To Keep Infection from Spreading

Tooth decay can spread from one tooth to another.  Indeed, this spread can happen rapidly in baby teeth since their enamel is thinner than secondary, or permanent, teeth.  By filling a cavity in a baby tooth, your pediatric dentist effectively removes the decay first or halts it’s development with SDF.  This greatly reduces the chances the decay will spread to other teeth. This answer is the most basic answer to why baby teeth need fillings. While extracting the tooth may accomplish the same goal, doing so ignores the other reasons below why it’s important to keep baby teeth in place until they naturally begin to wiggle and come out.

2. To Help Permanent Teeth Develop Properly

Baby teeth hold the spaces for permanent teeth and help guide their growth.  If baby teeth are lost due to decay prematurely, the permanent tooth may come in sideways or crooked.  This is why we avoid pulling baby teeth with cavities. Crooked teeth can affect children’s chewing abilities, and even their confidence levels.  Down the road, it can mean more expensive care in the form of braces to correct the issues, as well.  Thus, filling a baby tooth helps keep it in place for the time it needs to properly guide the permanent tooth that will some day take its place.

3. To  Support Proper Speech Development

Our teeth play a crucial role in our ability to pronounce words correctly and clearly.   This is especially true for children who are still learning to pronounce the sounds of English.  According to speech and hearing experts, children as old as 7-9 are still learning to form and pronounce over 8 common sounds  in the English language. Obviously, keeping baby teeth in place is beneficial to proper speech development! This makes filling cavities in baby teeth preferable to just pulling the tooth.

4. To Prevent Pain and Discomfort

Tooth decay can hurt.  It may be a baby tooth, but it can produce adult-sized pain! Some of the early signs of decay in a baby tooth are sensitivities to hot and cold foods.  If decay is left untreated, it may reach the center of the tooth or the pulp chamber. The pulp chamber contains all the blood vessels and nerves connecting into the tooth from the tooth’s root.  Once decay reaches this, pain can be severe! Filling a baby tooth at the first sign of decay with a minimally invasive dentistry approach is the best way to halt and prevent further pain in your child’s mouth.

5. To Avoid More Invasive, Expensive Dental Procedures

A filling, though not free, is usually the most cost effective way to treat a cavity in a baby tooth.  Indeed, parents can save money in the future on braces by keeping baby teeth healthy and in place.  Furthermore, by filling baby teeth early, parents can avoid the need of a pulpotomy (think baby root canal) and crown to save a decaying tooth.  A simple filling, in short, can save hundreds to thousands of dollars in the long run.

You Have Options to Treat Decay in Baby Teeth:  Fillings and/or SDF

The good news is that there are options when treating tooth decay. When caught early, there are two primary options we use at Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry.

  1. Fillings:  This method is one that most of us are familiar with.  The dentist stops further decay by removing it, either with a drill or a Solea laser. Then a filling is placed in the resulting hole to keep the tooth structurally sound.
  2. SDF: Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is an exciting treatment that involves NO drilling to stop decay! Rather, it is simply dripped onto the decay on a clean, dry tooth.  The silver in the compound works as a natural antibiotic, so within two minutes it starts killing the bacteria present in the decay.  At the same time, the fluoride does its job of protecting the minerals in the tooth’s enamel, so the enamel doesn’t break down from the decay.

Preventing Decay in Baby Teeth is Our Goal at GBPD

At Great Beginnings Pediatric Dentistry, we want to prevent tooth decay in the first place. The best defense is proper flossing and brushing.  Check out our following blogs:

Dr. Laura and Dr. Rachel would love to discuss the best ways to care for your child’s baby teeth.

They are accepting new patients under the age of 16 at their pediatric dental office on the border of Solon and Twinsburg, Ohio.  Call today to schedule a visit:  1-330-425-1885

This blog is not intended as medical advice.  It is for informational purposes only.


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