I love talking dentistry. When a patient asks me a question I enjoy taking the time to answer. People being more educated about their mouths ultimately makes my job easier (and I just like talking about teeth). However, there are some conversations I have so many times that I think it would be easier to just have my responses ready to go on a card to hand people.
“Well Ms. Jones, it looks like John has cavities on two of his baby teeth. The good news is that we caught them early and they just need two small fillings”
“Do we need to do fillings? This might be a stupid question, but won’t these teeth just fall out?”
It’s definitely not a stupid question. It makes complete sense without all the information. Why not just leave the cavity, let the tooth fall out, or take it out if it hurts and focus more on adult teeth?
There are absolutely times where we have to look at the tooth with the cavity and how much longer it will be in the mouth. If a baby tooth has a small cavity that isn’t causing any symptoms and will fall out naturally in 6 months doing a filling isn’t realistic. But what if the tooth won’t be lost for another 4 years? What about another 6 years?
If we leave the cavity, it will absolutely get worse over time. If we’re looking at a baby tooth like a second molar, it’s not normally lost until age 10-12. If the cavity develops in a 6-year-old, that tooth could have a cavity for up to 6 years. That’s a long time to leave an infection untreated. It’s more than enough time for it to spread deeper into the tooth, infect other teeth, cause pain and destroy the tooth. Not to mention the significant risk that the infection spreads beyond the mouth and causes a life-threatening abscess. It is better to address the tooth now while it isn’t causing an issue than when it starts hurting and needs more invasive treatment.
“So why not just pull the tooth? It’s going to come out one day anyways right?”. Again, a very fair question. Aside from allowing kids to chew food properly, baby teeth serve a crucial function of maintaining space for adult teeth to come in. If baby teeth are removed prematurely it can lead to crowding of the adult teeth, which can mean braces down the road. Not to mention, taking out a tooth isn’t exactly fun for a child.
So baby teeth are worth saving when we can and cavities are worth fixing. It’s all part of a discussion we are happy to have so we can help you decide what’s best for your child.
If you’re looking for a dentist in Calgary for you or your children, we’re happy to see new patients. Give West Peaks Dental Suite a call at 403-281-4264.