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Cavity Fillings in Baby Teeth — Are They Really Necessary?

blonde girl smiling with two lollipops in each hand
Author: mcymer Posted: July 22nd, 2021 Category:

If your child has a cavity in their baby teeth, you may be wondering if it’s worth the time and effort to get a filling. In most cases, the answer is yes.

A common misconception parents have is that it’s not worth the time, effort, or money to fill in cavities in baby teeth because the teeth will eventually fall out. While there are a few exceptions, ignoring cavities in primary teeth is generally a mistake. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to more problems like infection, difficulty chewing, malnutrition, and more.

Why Should You Treat Cavities in Baby Teeth?

Baby teeth influence how your child speaks and eats, so they should receive just as much care as permanent teeth. This typically means getting prompt treatment for your child’s cavities, as neglecting to fill them can lead to a host of other problems. 

Leaving cavities untreated can result in infections, pain, and swelling. If the decay grows and reaches the tooth’s nerve, your child will experience intense pain and need a baby root canal. Your child may also have trouble chewing and eating hard foods — including healthy foods like apples and carrots, which provide many necessary nutrients — due to the pain.

Having healthy baby teeth can set children up for healthy permanent teeth. On the other hand, children who have decayed primary teeth are more likely to have problems with their secondary teeth because the bacteria that causes cavities spreads easily. If their baby teeth have sustained too much damage from decay, their permanent teeth may be damaged before they even erupt. That’s why dental experts recommend that children see a dentist as soon as their primary teeth begin to erupt.

When a Filling Isn’t Necessary

While dental professionals generally recommend filling in cavities, there is no one-size-fits-all answer for whether it’s necessary to fill your child’s cavity. There are a few instances when filling a cavity may not be necessary, like if the tooth is about to fall out or the cavity is very small.

If a tooth is close to falling out, getting a filling may not be necessary. Be sure to ask your pediatric dentist for their advice.

Smaller cavities that are caught early on may also not need fillings, as they can repair themselves through remineralization. Saliva — which contains many enzymes, proteins, and compounds — can help repair the tooth’s enamel naturally. With better oral hygiene, fluoride toothpaste, and a healthy diet, the cavity may repair itself with no fillings needed.

Don’t Neglect Your Child’s Oral Health

Tooth decay is relatively common in children. In 2014, the American Academy of Pediatric Dentists reported that almost 60 percent of children in the United States experience tooth decay by the age of five. If your child has been experiencing toothaches, tooth sensitivity, spontaneous pain, pain when eating or drinking sweet, hot, or cold things, or pain when biting down, or has noticed discoloration, holes, or plaque buildup, they may have a cavity.

Even if your child does not have any cavity symptoms, it’s important to schedule an appointment with a dentist every six months. A professional can ensure your child’s teeth are healthy and catch any problems before they negatively impact your child’s quality of life. Set up an appointment at Espire today for high-quality pediatric dental care.