Humans are born with two sets of teeth- a deciduous set, often called the baby teeth, and a permanent set. The deciduous teeth arrive shortly after birth and last until age 6 or 7 when they begin to fall out because the permanent teeth have pushed their way up and caused the roots of the deciduous teeth to dissolve. Protecting deciduous teeth is crucial for a number of reasons. At Bond Family and Implant Dentistry we love to clean and care for baby teeth because we understand how important they are.
Parents sometimes wonder if placing a filling in a child’s decayed baby tooth is worthwhile because the tooth will fall out eventually anyway. At Bond Family and Implant Dentistry when a cavity is identified on a baby tooth we take a few things into consideration before deciding whether or not a filling is necessary. If the cavity is small, the child is not experiencing discomfort, and the tooth will likely fall out within a few months, we may discuss with the parent the option of “watching” the tooth to see if symptoms develop before the tooth comes out naturally. However, if the tooth is not likely to come out for an extended period of time, a filling will be necessary to prevent the decay from spreading. Baby teeth stimulate the growth of the permanent teeth and jaw, and maintain spacing in preparation for permanent teeth, so early loss of baby teeth is important to avoid when possible. When tooth decay is left untreated for a long period of time the decay can reach the tooth’s nerve, leading to severe pain, additional treatment beyond a filling, preliminary extraction or even severe systemic infection.
If a child is feeling pain from a cavity in a baby tooth, a filling is always recommended. Biting and chewing are very difficult without healthy baby teeth, which is why untreated cavities in baby teeth are linked to slower than expected growth rates and iron deficiencies. Kids also need their teeth for speaking, which can be stalled due to untreated tooth decay. Teeth also contribute to a child’s overall self-esteem. It is difficult to feel healthy and happy when you have a constant ache in your tooth!
Healthy primary teeth are the first step toward healthy permanent teeth. The oral care habits that children learn with their baby teeth will carry over to their permanent set. Remember to brush those baby teeth morning and night, and begin using a little toothpaste starting at age 2. Floss as soon as the teeth touch each other. Try to avoid taking milk or juice to bed, and also avoid sipping on sugary drinks throughout the day. Statistics show that 1 in 3 children ages 2-5 will get a cavity in a deciduous tooth, so bring your child in for an introductory teeth cleaning “happy visit” starting between ages 2 and 3. This visit helps a young child feel good about the dental office setting (especially when they leave with a prize). At Bond Family and Implant Dentistry we are committed to working with you to keep your kids’ teeth healthy and their smiles bright! If you are in the Longmont, CO area and are looking for great care for your children’s deciduous teeth, give us a call today.