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Why You Can't Ignore Cavities in Baby Teeth

Dentist examining little boy for cavities

It doesn’t feel good to learn that your child has a cavity in one of his or her teeth!

Cavities do happen, so this doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. But you can’t afford to just dismiss cavities like they’re no big deal.

You may think that decayed baby teeth don’t need treatment since they’ll “fall out, anyway.”

But there’s far more to it than that.

Why Baby Teeth Matter

In short, baby teeth do exactly what adult teeth do, just on a smaller scale:

  • Allow a child to smile

  • Give a shape to the face

  • Chew food

  • Enable speech

Baby teeth are placeholders for adult teeth. They need to stay in place until the next tooth due to arrive is well and ready to do so. If baby teeth are lost prematurely to decay, the adult teeth may likely come in crooked.

Crooked permanent teeth affect bite alignment and can even cause difficulty with eating and speaking. Your kid may even need braces in later years.

Even kids as young as six or seven who have some decayed baby teeth may be old enough to feel ashamed of their smile.

Given how useful and important your child’s teeth are to him or her, why let them just rot away?

The Dangers of Childhood Tooth Decay

Prematurely losing teeth does cause issues down the road. But there are more immediate concerns.

Tooth decay doesn’t stop at one tooth. Leaving one baby tooth untreated puts all of the others at risk since cavities are caused by a contagious bacterial infection. A cavity could even spread to an emerging adult tooth which doesn’t have a replacement waiting in the wings!

Baby teeth are very thin and delicate compared with adult teeth. They don’t have thick enamel. It doesn’t take long for a cavity to reach the center of the tooth where the large and sensitive nerve chamber is.

Once the infection reaches the nerve, you’re looking at a painful dental abscess.

How to Treat Cavities in Baby Teeth

How you should treat a cavity in your child’s baby tooth depends on:

  • The extent of the decay

  • How close the tooth is to falling out, naturally

You may not have to take action at all if the tooth is due to come out within the next couple of months. But you will have to treat a tooth if it’s going to be in there a while longer.

Advanced decay may need to be treated by removing the entire tooth. To save a space for the incoming adult tooth, the dentist can place a space maintainer.

In other cases, the sensitive and nearly-infected root can be removed and then the dentist caps the tooth with a stainless steel crown.

If the cavity is small, a regular dental filling is usually enough.

Of course, the best treatment is preventing tooth decay in the first place.

Prevent Decay in Your Kids’ Teeth!

An effective cavity-preventing routine for kids includes:

  • Brushing their teeth twice daily with a smear of fluoride toothpaste as soon as the first baby tooth arrives

  • Flossing their teeth for them as soon as the spaces between them close up

  • Offering water to drink instead of sugary, acidic juice or soda which promote decay

  • Substituting fiber- and protein-rich snacks and veggies for junk food

  • Visiting the dentist on a regular basis to monitor your child’s cavity risk

Restorative Dentist for Kids

Are you looking for a Tacoma general dentist who treats children?

Dr. Duke Bui is a family guy and passionate about helping other Tacoma families to stay healthy. And a healthy smile is an integral part of a healthy lifestyle, so Dr. Bui is dedicated to helping both kids and adults maintain the best dental health possible.

Remember Dr. Duke Bui for your family’s every dental need. Contact us to schedule your kid’s next dental checkup to make sure there aren’t any serious cavities that need treatment.

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