Why Do My Child’s Baby Teeth Need Fillings?

As you probably know, fillings are commonly used to treat cavities—in both children and adults alike. Cavities are especially common in young children. According to the five-year National Health and Nutrition Study, nearly have of children ages 2 to 11 experience dental caries. But you may be wondering about your child’s baby teeth: “If it’s a tooth that’s going to fall out anyway, why bother having a filling put in?” Here is a look at why dental fillings are necessary even for baby teeth.

A filling treats the infection before it worsens.

First, keep in mind that dental cavities are tooth decay, which is, in essence, a form of infection. If tooth decay is allowed to progress, it could lead to your child requiring more serious treatment than a simple filling. An untreated cavity will continue to grow larger, even until so much of the tooth is gone that a filling can no longer treat it (in which case, a dental crown is required.) In addition, the bacteria from a cavity can spread to the pulp chamber of the tooth, where nerves and blood vessels are located. If this happens, then the pulp becomes irritated and infected, and it could ultimately lead to a very painful abscess, which must be treated with a root canal and usually a dental crown as well. Sometimes a cavity progresses so far that not even a root canal can address it, and the tooth instead must be extracted.

A filling stops the pain.

As just explained, a filling treats a dental cavity before it progresses into something much worse and much more painful. Having a baby tooth filled, then, will stop the pain that the cavity is causing and prevent any future pain from occurring. This means that having your child’s cavities filled will eliminate discomfort and allow your child to enjoy a pain-free smile once again.

Fillings preserve proper tooth alignment.

Temporary molars and incisors are essential for ensuring proper positioning and alignment of the permanent teeth, which don’t fully come in until age 12 or 13. Therefore, it’s important to address a cavity in a baby tooth as soon as it hits. Otherwise, the tooth may very well fall out prematurely, and this could lead to improper tooth alignment of the permanent molars and incisors.

Your child still needs full use of those teeth.

Your child still needs full use of all baby teeth, not only for chewing, but also for speech development. Dental problems, when left unaddressed, could ultimately have negative effects on nutrition and speech development.

Fillings help restore confidence.

Finally, because fillings restore teeth to how they should look, they can ultimately help restore your child’s confidence in his or her own smile.

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