Baby teeth are more porous and relatively weaker compared to adult teeth. For this reason, dental cavities are more common and develop faster. If you notice any colour change on any of your child’s tooth, please contact our practice to schedule an appointment.
A cavity is a small hole that forms inside the tooth because of tooth decay. Cavities are formed when plaque build-up on the outside of the tooth combines with sugars and starches in the food you eat. This produces an acid that can eat away the enamel on your tooth. If a cavity is left untreated, it can lead to more serious oral health problems.
A filling is a material used to fill a cavity after all of the tooth decay has been removed.
A cavity that is deep may involve the nerve. This means that in order to treat the source of the problem, your child may require a form of nerve treatment. This is very common in children’s dentistry and is a painless, straight-forward procedure. This type of treatment may involve:
- Pulpotomy – partial nerve treatment to preserve the tooth and keep the nerve alive
- Root Canal Treatment – removal of the nerve of the tooth, disinfection, and filling of the root
A cavity that is large, deep, or that affects multiple surfaces of the tooth may require a crown to go around the tooth. This is very different from a crown that would be placed on a permanent tooth. These crowns are quick to place and can be done in one visit. Depending on the location of the tooth, there are different types of crowns that we use. In the majority of cases, especially involving back teeth, stainless steel crowns (metal) are used.
Why Baby Teeth Are Important
Baby teeth (also called "primary teeth") are important for eating, speaking, appearance, and holding space for the developing adult teeth. They are crucial to your child’s overall growth, development, and well-being. Once cavities develop they get bigger and deeper much faster than in adult teeth. As well, the nerve inside the baby tooth is closer to the outside of the tooth than in an adult tooth, therefore cavities in baby teeth, if left untreated, can result in serious consequences, such as pain, infection, abscess, and swelling. It is important to treat dental cavities early in baby teeth as opposed to waiting for them to get bigger.
When discussing cavities on baby teeth, we are often asked, “Do we really need to fix it? Won’t the tooth just fall out?” This is an excellent question. Most baby teeth will fall out (or exfoliate), but it is very important to consider the location of the tooth and the timing of the cavity.
Most front teeth will fall out between ages of six and eight. If these teeth are lost prematurely due to tooth decay or trauma, it rarely causes a serious problem. It will usually have no impact on development. Some parents are concerned about the appearance of a child with no front teeth. We can usually alleviate this concern by restoring (fixing) the front teeth – as long as it is in a situation that is positive and acceptable for the child.
Baby teeth in the back of your child’s mouth usually do not fall out until age’s nine to twelve. These teeth are very important in regards to reserving spots for adult teeth. Under each back baby tooth is an adult tooth already developing. If the baby tooth is lost too early – due to untreated dental cavities – the remaining teeth will shift around and move into the empty spots. This has the potential to cause crowding of the adult teeth.
Cavities hold large numbers of bacteria. If left untreated, they can spread to other teeth including the adult teeth. It is much easier and less expensive to treat cavities that are small. It is also easier on your child. At City Orthodontics & Pediatric Dentistry, our goal is to keep your child’s smile healthy, and this means preventing cavities from developing and treating them early when they do develop.