Primary teeth, commonly called baby teeth, begin growing when a child reaches six months of age. They function to help a child learn how to speak and eat properly as their jaw grows to ultimately fit adult permanent teeth. Then, when the child turns five or six, baby teeth will fall out of their sockets, and adult teeth will grow through the gums.
Although kids will lose their baby teeth, caring for primary teeth is crucial to the young dental patient’s life-long oral health. Baby teeth can develop cavities or other dental issues just like adult teeth. You should not ignore problems in baby teeth just because they will fall out eventually.
You can feel more encouraged to pursue proper oral health care for your child’s smile when you know more about the importance of this dental work. Read on to learn why you should seek prompt treatment for cavities in your child’s baby teeth.
Risks of Untreated Tooth Decay in Baby Teeth
Cavities develop when natural oral bacteria penetrate a weak spot in the tooth’s enamel, the outer layer of a tooth. Dentists refer to the area where bacteria eat away at the dental structure as tooth decay. If decay wears a hole into the tooth’s surface, this is a cavity.
Baby teeth and adult teeth alike can both form cavities. This tooth decay will not go away on its own. Though a baby tooth will fall out eventually, you should still seek treatment for a cavity on this tooth.
If tooth decay becomes advanced, it can cause significant pain and discomfort for the child. Untreated tooth decay can also make the tooth more vulnerable to infections and other serious oral health issues.
Tooth decay can also cause problems in underlying adult teeth. The permanent teeth could grow crooked or weak, requiring more dental work later in life. So do not ignore any kind of cavity.
Treatment Options for Cavities in Primary Teeth
A dentist will need to evaluate the severity of the tooth decay before recommending treatment for the affected tooth. If the child is older and the dental damage is less severe, the dentist may suggest preventative care like fluoride treatment to stop the decay from worsening.
Most cavities will need a dental filling. This treatment involves removing the damaged part of the enamel and filling the resulting hole in the tooth with composite resin. The dentist cures and hardens the resin to seal it in place. Then it can restore the tooth’s shape and prevent further harm to the dental structure.
Advanced cases of tooth decay may require the removal of a larger portion of the tooth. In this case, a dentist may need to use a dental crown to cover the entire surface of the tooth.
Prompt diagnosis of tooth decay can lower the risk of requiring this type of dental work. Talk to your dentist about oral hygiene and other care that can reduce the chances of developing cavities in the first place.