Do you have a child who has cavities in their baby teeth? Are you wondering how to treat cavities in baby teeth?
Just because baby teeth eventually fall out doesn’t mean you should pull them if they get cavities. Baby teeth are vitally important for infants before their adult teeth come in.
If you have a child with cavities in their baby teeth, it can be tempting to have them pulled. However, there are ways to prevent and deal with these cavities.
In this article, we’ll be discussing pulling baby teeth with cavities and answering questions like:
- Should you fix cavities in baby teeth?
- Do you fill cavities in baby teeth?
- Why put crowns on baby teeth?
- How do I know when pulling teeth vs. crowns is the best option?
Keep reading to learn more about the treatment options for babies with cavities and some alternatives to filling cavities in baby teeth.
The Importance of Baby Teeth
It’s common for parents or adults with young children to wonder, “Do baby teeth affect permanent teeth?” The answer is that, yes, they do.
Baby teeth play an essential role in a child’s oral development and overall lifestyle before adult teeth come in (erupt). Understanding how a child’s teeth aid children as they grow can help you better consider the alternatives to pulling baby teeth with cavities.
Here are the top three reasons baby teeth are necessary for developing children.
1. Help With Eating
First and foremost, non-adult teeth help young children eat solid food as it’s introduced into their diet. Eating may seem like an obvious benefit of keeping teeth as a baby, but it’s very crucial.
As babies grow and develop, they need more nutrients than just what comes from milk. They’ll start getting these necessary nutrients by eating more solid foods. Teeth provide toddlers with the ability to chew and digest new foods more easily.
2. Hold Space for Adult Teeth
A lesser-known role of baby teeth is their importance as a placeholder in a child’s mouth for adult teeth.
Pulling teeth too early can create a space that other baby teeth might fill. When other baby teeth shift into this space, it can make it more difficult for the adult tooth to grow correctly. Spacing issues can cause overcrowding and lead to the necessity of orthodontic procedures later in life.
3. Guide Adult Teeth
In tandem with reason number two, baby teeth help guide adult teeth into place—they act as a runway for adult teeth when they start erupting.
When you prematurely remove baby teeth, adult teeth won’t have the correct guidance. Without guidance, adult teeth can grow in awkwardly or crookedly. If you have teeth that don’t come in correctly, you may need future orthodontic treatment to fix these issues.
How to Treat Cavities in Baby Teeth
With baby teeth, you’ll want to stay proactive to fight against cavities, which means starting good oral hygiene early. Early hygiene will prevent cavities from ever becoming an issue in your child’s mouth.
At Northside Dental Co., we recommend this toothbrush for children ages 3-7 to help keep oral health on track. (We love it because it makes brushing fun and interactive for kids. It comes with an interactive app that rewards kids for each successful brushing session while allowing parents to track and monitor progress – no guessing if they’re getting those tricky back molars.)
But what happens when a child gets a cavity on their teeth? Should you fix cavities in baby teeth? If so, what options exist to treat a baby’s cavities?
Thankfully, there are ways to deal with cavities in children before pulling baby teeth.
Below are some of the best ways to treat cavities in baby teeth, as well as some questions and answers regarding pulling baby teeth.
Do Cavities in Baby Teeth Really Need to Be Filled?
Most of the time, yes, baby teeth with cavities should be filled if possible.
As we mentioned earlier, there are many reasons to preserve baby teeth until adult teeth erupt. One of the most common ways to keep baby teeth healthy until adult teeth come in is filling them.
Filling a baby tooth is similar to filling an adult tooth. The dentist will carefully drill the tooth to remove the infected area and then fill it. It’s that simple.
After the filling process, it’s still necessary to maintain good oral hygiene and regularly take your child to the dentist to prevent further cavities.
Why Put Crowns on Baby Teeth?
When faced with the option of pulling baby teeth vs. crowns, dentists prefer to place crowns. Crowns are one of the best alternatives to filling cavities in baby teeth.
But why do baby teeth need crowns? Why is this a good option?
By placing a crown on a baby tooth, the dentist can strengthen the decaying baby tooth while preserving the original tooth. A crown allows the baby tooth to remain as a placeholder for the adult tooth and guide the adult tooth into place.
Often, a silver-looking (stainless steel) crown will be placed instead of a normal tooth-colored crown. Stainless steel crowns are perfectly safe and dentists use them on children’s teeth for a few reasons:
- They’re cheaper than tooth-colored crowns.
- They take less time to make and place (usually the same day as the patient visit), so the decaying tooth is covered and preserved quicker.
- They fall out naturally when adult teeth come in.
If your child needs a crown, it might be tough to look past the silver color. But remember, baby teeth are vitally important for adult tooth eruption, but they’re also temporary. A dentist’s goal is to preserve baby teeth quickly and effectively until adult teeth come in. Eventually, baby teeth (and any silver crowns) will fall out and white adult teeth will come in.
Pulling Baby Teeth With Cavities
There are a few cases where a dentist may decide to pull a baby tooth.
- When the permanent tooth is well-positioned and close to erupting
- When an orthodontist desires to guide an incoming poorly-positioned adult tooth correctly
- When there’s a risk for the baby tooth cavity to infect an adjacent adult tooth
Ultimately, pulling a baby tooth is the last resort. A dentist will usually try other options to treat a cavity and preserve baby teeth.
Get Expert Advice on Pulling Baby Teeth with Cavities
A child’s teeth play a vital role in their physical development and incoming adult teeth. They’ll provide a growing baby with the opportunity to eat solid foods. Non-adult teeth also create space and direction for adult teeth once they start coming in.
If baby teeth do develop cavities, there are many steps you can take to deal with cavities. Your dentist will most likely try to preserve these precious teeth by filling them or covering them with a crown. In some instances, pulling baby teeth may be necessary.
When dealing with your child’s teeth and issues like pulling teeth vs. crowns, it’s always best to consult with your dentist.
At Northside Dental Co., we provide expert care and advice for your child’s oral hygiene as they transition to adult teeth. Our office is equipped to handle patients of all ages, from young toddlers to adult seniors. We’ll strive to make your experience enjoyable by providing friendly and professional help every step of the way.
Book your appointment online, or give us a call to set your child up for a lifetime of excellent oral health. New patients are always welcome!