Children eventually lose their primary teeth (baby teeth), however, that set of teeth needs to survive until the adult teeth push them out of the gums, which helps ensure the adult teeth grow in correctly and with enough room. Therefore, good oral hygiene is very important even in their early years. Despite your best efforts to ensure good dental hygiene, sometimes cavities still form. It is very important to keep the primary teeth healthy until it naturally gets exfoliated, because there are consequences of loosing the baby teeth too early.
Baby Teeth Get Fillings
Though baby teeth aren’t permanent, they are the only teeth your child will have for several years until the adult teeth come in. To preserve your child’s oral health, your dentist will opt to remove the cavities in baby teeth and fill. The primary teeth help the adult teeth to come in properly, so losing primary teeth before they’re ready to come out isn’t good for your child’s permanent teeth.
Filling for Tooth Decay
As with adult teeth, baby teeth fillings are made out of tooth coloured composite material. At our office, we do not carry amalgam (silver fillings) anymore for environmental and health concerns. Your dentist will remove the tooth decay from your child’s baby teeth as necessary. Depending on how much damage the cavity has caused, the dentist will then fill the tooth or crown it. Kids should continue using good oral hygiene when caring for fillings or crowns, whether those repairs have been done on baby teeth or on permanent teeth.
Decay Can Recur
Though your dentist works very hard to remove all the tooth decay, sometimes it is a recurring issue. Teeth with cavities between them, even with decay removal and fillings, have a better chance of cavity recurrence than teeth with cavities on exposed surfaces. When decay comes back, the dentist will need to replace the filling to take care of the new decay and re-fill the tooth.
Trauma and Other Issues Also Require Fillings
Tooth decay is just one of the reasons kids need fillings. If trauma has happened to the tooth to cause a crack, a filling is necessary as well. Other issues may be incorrectly shaped teeth, underdeveloped teeth, etc.
Sometimes Extraction Is Necessary
Preserving baby teeth is one of the most important part of dental care for children. The reason revolves around maintaining the right amount of space for the adult teeth to come in. However, sometimes your dentist will have no choice but to pull the baby tooth early. If the decay is so advanced it’s causing infection or pain for your child, extraction becomes the best option. In that case, space maintainer is recommended to keep the space until the permanent tooth erupts.
Kids Sometimes Get Laughing Gas and/or Oral Sedation
When children are having cavities filled, dentists sometimes recommend the use of nitrous oxide, commonly called laughing gas and/or oral sedation. If you’ve ever experienced this gas at the dentist before, you may remember the sensation that it provides. For some children, this minimal sedation reduces anxiety and distracts them from the pain associated with both getting that local anesthetic shot in the gums and getting a tooth drilled. Nitrous oxide doesn’t work for all kids, and your dentist may opt to go with an orally administered sedative, instead. And of course, as with many things, not all dentists can offer nitrous oxide, so it’s best to check beforehand.
The Number of Fillings in One Sitting Depends on the Kid
Dentist’s number one priority when treating kids is not to create traumatic experience. When dentists fix cavities for kids, sometimes they do all the cavities at once and sometimes they do only one at a time. The reason for this has to do with the kids, not the cavities. Some children are fine sitting in the chair for long periods of time, while others are not. Dentists want the best outcome for the kid, and if that means making multiple appointments to fill cavities, then that is what will happen. Providing quality oral care to a crying child is very difficult for both the kids and the parents.
If you’re anxious about your child’s first filling, our dentists will put you at ease. We develop a treatment plan that is right for you and your child, with an aim to preserve the baby teeth until the adult teeth come in. The most important thing you can do as a parent is to keep teaching your kids about proper oral hygiene and continue scheduling regular professional teeth cleanings to minimize fillings and more invasive care.