Cavities are common in children. In fact, according to the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood health problem. When children do develop cavities, they must be treated, even in primary teeth.
Although the primary teeth do eventually fall out, it’s important that they stay in place until the permanent tooth underneath is ready to erupt. They will help your child to chew food thoroughly and develop proper speech patterns, and they serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth. When a tooth is lost prematurely, the permanent tooth may come in too soon, potentially causing a problem with the alignment of those permanent teeth.
An untreated cavity is also likely to progress, and it can reach the tooth’s inner core, exposing the nerve and causing pain for your child.
We prefer to take every step possible to save a primary tooth that has experienced decay rather than removing it. Often, this requires the dentist to place a filling in the tooth.
The process of filling a cavity in a pediatric patient is similar to the same treatment in an adult. Our dentist may have to remove some surrounding tooth material to make room for the filling. Rest assured that our experienced and knowledgeable dentists use a gentle touch while completing this part of the procedure.
Parents can choose metal or composite fillings for their children. Composite fillings are becoming increasingly popular, as they are tooth-colored and do not detract from the smile.
Your child should not experience much discomfort while having a cavity filled, but if the patient has any fear about the procedure, sedation may be recommended to make it a more comfortable experience for child and parent alike.
If your child is diagnosed with a cavity, it also presents a good opportunity for you to discuss preventive care with the dentist so that you can continue to take steps to reduce your child’s risk of tooth decay.
Parents should take tooth decay in a child’s primary teeth quite seriously. Have your child examined every six months for signs of decay, and talk to your dentist about a filling if your child is diagnosed with a cavity.