Primary teeth, also known as baby teeth, start to grow into place around the age of six months. Baby teeth allow a child to learn to speak, eat, and perform other oral functions while also keeping the jaw healthy and ready for larger adult permanent teeth.
Kids lose baby teeth naturally around age five, and then adult teeth burst into place through the gums. Since baby teeth fall out on their own, you might wonder if they require the same diligent oral health care that permanent teeth do.
The answer is yes. Baby teeth can develop tooth decay, cavities, and other dental problems just like adult teeth. Although a child will lose a baby tooth, you should not skip crucial care for these teeth, including treatment in the event of a cavity.
Cavities in baby teeth do not go away on their own. They may also create long-term oral health issues in young patients, despite their impermanence in a child’s smile. Read on to learn details about how cavities in baby teeth can impact oral health.
Risks of Untreated Cavities in Baby Teeth
Tooth decay refers to a type of deterioration that occurs within a tooth when natural oral bacteria penetrate a weak spot in the enamel and begin to eat away at the dental structure. When decay advances to the point that a hole forms in the tooth’s surface, dentists refer to the issue as a cavity.
Both baby teeth and adult teeth are susceptible to cavities. And in both cases, decay will progress and reach deeper into the more sensitive interior of the tooth without intervention from a dentist.
Advanced tooth decay may leave a young dental patient in serious discomfort. Tooth pain can impact a child’s eating habits, leading to unhealthy behaviors that may last into adulthood. Decay that reaches the interior of the tooth may result in an infection. This will require extensive dental work to fix.
Untreated cavities in baby teeth, in particular, will affect the health of adult teeth, even if they have not grown yet. Permanent teeth may weaken or grow crooked, which will need additional dental work down the road. Do not ignore cavities of any kind if you want to avoid long-term oral health issues.
How to Treat Cavities in Primary Teeth
Treatment for a cavity in a primary tooth will depend on the severity of the decay as well as the child’s age. In minor instances of tooth decay, a dentist may suggest preventative dental care to stop the cavity from advancing. They may use fluoride treatment to strengthen tooth enamel.
Many cavities require a dental filling to treat. This involves the dentist removing the damaged part of the tooth and filling the resulting hole with composite resin. This restores the tooth’s structure while also creating a seal to protect the vulnerable area from further harm.
Advanced tooth decay may require the removal of more enamel than a filling can cover. In this case, the dentist may need to give the patient a dental crown. Discover which treatment will best suit your child’s needs by attending a dental appointment soon.