How and Why Dentists Fix Cavities in Children’s Baby Teeth

If you have a child that has cavities in their baby teeth you may have wondered if it is important to have them fixed.  Even though baby teeth are temporary and will be replaced with permanent teeth, it is very important to your child’s health and development to keep baby teeth healthy. The Dentists at North Burnaby Dental Group explain why.

Children Burnaby Dentist

Healthy baby teeth are very important in the development of chewing, swallowing, speaking, smiling, and for the arrangement of future permanent teeth.   They guide permanent teeth into their position and maintain the space required for the bigger, permanent teeth. Any loss of space or teeth due to decay or trauma at this stage could lead to problems with the dentition in the future requiring longer, painful, sometimes inconvenient and definitely costlier treatment procedures.  The adult dentition is not in place until about age 12, so there are many important developmental years where the baby teeth are present.  Therefore, it is very important that at the first sign of decay or any injury to the deciduous teeth, parents take the child to the dentist for further evaluation.

Children are more susceptible to decay or trauma due to reasons such as the anatomy of the baby teeth, inability to brush properly on their own, consumption of chocolates/sweets/sticky foods/juices without rinsing or brushing properly afterward, higher risk of traumatic injuries while playing and running around, and falls during the toddler years.

What Will the Dentist Do?

If your dentist finds a cavity in your child’s tooth they will provide you with some options. These will vary depending on the severity of the decay, which tooth is affected and the age of your child.

Dentists use a lot of methods to make sure that the baby teeth can be maintained and retained in good condition.  For small cavities, the decayed portion can be removed and a filling done. In the case of a tooth having deeper decay, then a procedure called pulpotomy can be completed.  This is similar to an adult root canal, but there is no permanent filling material placed deep in the roots as the roots will resorb when the permanent successor arrives.  In some cases, when the tooth cannot be saved at all due to severe decay, trauma, or fracture, then the dentist will have to take the tooth out and sometimes place a space maintainer to preserve the space for the underlying permanent tooth.

If the child needs more than a local/topical anesthetic for an extraction or any other procedure then sedation may be discussed. Sometimes it makes more sense for young or very apprehensive children to be referred to a paediatric specialist for sedation.

Minimizing Risk of Poor Oral Hygiene in Children

Prevention goes a long way in oral health.  The responsibility for caring for a child’s teeth lies with the parent until children have the dexterity to manage it on their own.  This is usually around the age of 6 or 7, but can be later for some kids.  This means assisting with daily brushing and flossing, and checking that when kids are cleaning on their own that they are doing a satisfactory job.  By helping your child be aware of the importance of maintaining healthy teeth from a very early age, this will help instil good habits.  When good oral hygiene starts early with proper care and motivation, children can sail through the baby teeth phase without having any major issues with their dentition.

A healthy child is a happy child and one of the important functions of the teeth is to help chew food and also help in the growth and development of the jaws through their chewing action. Thus, it is important that form, function, and aesthetics of the baby teeth be maintained until they serve their purpose and are shed naturally.  Discomfort from decayed teeth can also be a big disruption for kids at school.  If you have questions or concerns about cavities or cavity prevention for your child be sure to talk to at your new dental appointment or contact us now.

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