Why Do Children Need Fillings?
One of the common misconceptions about baby teeth is that if you find cavities in them, fillings are not required because the teeth are not permanent. That cannot be further from the truth. If the cavity is not restored with a filling and left to progress without intervention, the anatomical structure of the milk teeth will break down rapidly and lead to other problems.
The enamel of a baby tooth is much thinner than that of an adult tooth. Therefore decay moves more rapidly towards the nerve of the tooth. Failure to address decay in milk teeth can lead to other complications including bite problems, infections, eating difficulty, etc. It can even increase the permanent teeth’s susceptibility to decay. Bearing in mind that the last baby tooth for most children only fall out at around the age of 12, leaving a cavity untreated in a milk tooth can still be very risky. Although the incisors typically fall out by age 6-8, the canines and molars remain intact until age 11-13. The option for leaving the cavity alone is valid only if the tooth is close to falling out. Otherwise, your child may be at risk for infections, toothaches and unpleasant looking teeth – not to mention extensive dental work.
As soon as a cavity is detected in your child’s milk teeth, there are two main factors you should take into consideration: The age of your child and the tooth’s condition. If the cavity is small and the tooth is about to fall out, it may be better to just leave it alone. If the tooth isn’t due to fall out for at least 1-2 more years, the most prudent option is to remove the decay and place a filling. If a severe decay or infection is detected in the baby tooth, an extraction may be necessary to prevent it from spreading and affecting other remaining teeth. Extraction of baby teeth should be seen as a last resort, and not just because it is a dreaded procedure. Even though it will be replaced by a permanent tooth, a prematurely extracted baby tooth creates a gap that may lead to uneven spacing of teeth and crowding issues.
While a small or medium-sized cavity can be easily filled with a white filling, larger cavities may require a crown to cover the tooth. That is another reason why it is advisable to fill a cavity while it is still small enough and require less invasive dentistry. Deep decays and infections may require more extensive treatments such as a pulpotomy, or what is referred to as a “baby root canal”.
The Importance of Educating Children
If your child is too young to understand what the filling procedure is about, you can ask the dentist to explain the process to him or her. Most dentists are experienced enough to use age-appropriate language, and perhaps even explanation aids, to familiarise your child with the treatment. As a caregiver, you should also play a supportive role by explaining why it is necessary to undergo the treatment.
If you are looking for a professional dental outfit that provides quality children’s dentistry, contact North Sydney Dental Practice for a consultation today at (02) 9922 1476.