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Should Cavities In Baby Teeth Be Filled?

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A child's baby teeth are only made to last for roughly 12 years, so they don't have to be as strong as adult teeth. One consequence of this is that they often develop cavities that need to be filled. If you're a parent, you might wonder why your child's baby teeth have to be filled if they're only going to fall out later anyway. There are number of reasons why your dentist might believe that it's best to fill a cavity in one of your child's baby teeth.

To Avoid Pain and Infection

A dentist may suggest putting a filling in a baby tooth if it is likely to become painful. If the cavity is fairly close to a sensitive nerve, the child's tooth could easily become painful or even infected. Instead of allowing the child to endure this pain and risk a serious infection, it's usually best to just put in a filling.

The Tooth Is Not About to Fall Out

Baby teeth start falling out at around the age of 6, with the last of these teeth coming out at around the age of 12 or 13. If it's going to be several years before the tooth is likely to fall out, it's a good idea to go ahead and fill it, since the child is going to have to use it for quite some time. On the other hand, if the tooth is about to fall out and isn't causing too much trouble, you might want to consider leaving it as it is and letting it fall out naturally.

Problems Caused by Early Removal

You might think that the best alternative is to simply have the tooth pulled early. However, there are problems with this approach. A baby tooth serves as a guide for the incoming adult tooth, and if the teeth aren't in the correct position because one was removed early, this can make it difficult for the adult tooth to come up.

Another consideration is that removing a tooth early can be quite traumatic for a small child. This could have unfortunate consequences for this child's later dental care, since a scary experience early in life in a dentist's chair can lead to a permanent fear of going to the dentist. This is why it's usually best (if possible) to avoid pulling teeth until a person is old enough to understand the necessity for the procedure.  

For more information, contact your family dentist