Have you ever thought: “My child’s baby tooth needs a filling. Since it is it just going to eventually fall out, do we even need to fill it?”
Well, that is a great question!! We are asked this a lot! Let’s look at why fixing cavities in baby teeth is an excellent decision!
Take a look at this child’s mouth:
Do you see all of those spaces between his teeth?? We LOVE SPACING in kids mouths because baby teeth are SMALLER than big, permanet teeth! When this child loses all of his baby teeth, he will have room for the big teeth to come in!
Now, let’s look at this child’s mouth:
Her baby teeth are CROWDED which means that there will not be enough room for her big teeth to come in straight! Her permanent teeth will be crowded or they may not have any room to even come in!
Imagine if either of these children lost a tooth BEFORE their big tooth was READY to come in. Once that baby tooth is out of the picture, the teeth around it shift and the big tooth (or teeth) may be crowded out and may even be prevented from erupting at all. Could you imagine if the child in the second picture lost even more space for her big teeth?
In short, baby teeth “hold place” for big teeth. Do what you can to make sure your little one has room for their big teeth to come in by keeping their baby teeth healthy.
Here’s another not-so-fun fact: Cavities can SPREAD to other surrounding teeth. Now, imagine that your child has a cavity on a tooth right beside a brand new big tooth. That big tooth is now at risk for getting a cavity as well.
Did you know that teeth also help you to SPEAK? Have you ever talked to a child who has recently lost a front tooth? Have you noticed that they now speak with a lisp? That’s because your front teeth have a lot to do with forming sounds! Learning to speak correctly is tough enough for children, so let’s do our small part of keeping their teeth healthy to give them the best start in their early years.
Here’s another scenario: what if a cavity is left UNTREATED? Left untreated, the cavity will continue to grow larger. Since a cavity forms due to bacteria (keep an eye out for an article on this!), if the cavity gets big enough, it can cause SWELLING and PAIN and can even, although rarely, turn into a life-threatening situation! We can keep our precious kiddos feeling their BEST with regular dental visits and by following through with recommendations in a timely manner.
Another thing to keep in mind is that your child will have some baby teeth until they are about 12 years old! In fact, these baby teeth that hang around that long are actually at a higher risk of getting a cavity before they fall out. So, if a baby tooth that is supposed to be in place until your child is 12 years old develops a cavity when he is only 6 years old, that would be 6 YEARS without a tooth in place! Losing a baby tooth too early can also DELAY the big tooth from erupting at the time that it is supposed to. So, if a cavity is not fixed, and your child needs to have a tooth removed before the big tooth is ready to come in, instead of 6 years without a big tooth, it could be even longer!
Now, let’s think of something else. This is a very basic and simple question but it is SUPER important: What does YOUR CHILD use to EAT their food??
It’s not a trick question.
The answer is, of course… THEIR TEETH!
So, if we don’t fix your child’s teeth and let cavities get bigger, and remove their teeth before their big teeth come in; what will they eat with?? Good nutrition for our kiddos starts with their healthy teeth!
Fixing cavities on baby teeth is just as important as fixing cavities on big teeth!!
By having a cavity fixed in your child’s tooth, you can potentially AVOID additional trips to the dentist, AVOID unforeseen emergencies, and maybe even AVOID the orthodontist! Following through with your dentist’s recommended conservative treatment truly does help to PREVENT less-comfortable and potentially expensive dental visits down the road. If you ever have questions when your dentist makes a recommendation, just ask them because we truly do care and are here to help!
Keep Smiling 😊
Drs. Heller & Dr. Elger
Model children photos by Jaclyn Simpson Photography
Jennifer Burge Heller Family Dental is currently accepting new patients! Their office is located at 1329 E. Empire Street in Bloomington. Learn more by visiting them online at pleasefloss.com or by calling 309-454-1425. Get social with Dr. Jennifer Heller and Dr. Nicole Elger on Facebook HERE and on Instagram at @pleasefloss_dds.