Fixing Baby Teeth

Well, I think we skipped Spring and Summer has decided to appear!

Some parents hold off on taking their children to see a dentist until the age of four or five.  They go in for the exam and cleaning and are told: “Timmy has a cavity.”  The next question asked is:

Why are you going to fix a tooth that is going to fall out?

Primary teeth (baby teeth) are an important part of your child’s smile.  They assist with the growth and development of the jaws,  they help with chewing and speech.  They do have a tendency to fall out, but not always ;).

Primary teeth normally start to fall out at age 6 or 7.

 

BUT THIS ISN’T TRUE FOR ALL PRIMARY TEETH!

 

Posterior teeth (the molars, the ones in the back that get food stuck in the grooves) are present until 10-13 years of age.   If the cavity has been diagnosed at 4 years of age, it’s fair game to say the tooth won’t last until it’s supposed to fall out.  We are left with a few problems:

1. There is an active bacterial infection causing destruction of tooth surface.
2. There is loss of tooth structure, which leads to movement of other teeth.  This movement is often in ways that interfere with the eruption of other teeth.
3. There is alteration of bone growth due to early loss of tooth structure or the entire tooth.

And therein lies the problem.  The job of the primary teeth (besides smiling, chewing, helping with speech and being difficult to clean) is to maintain space for the permanent teeth.  The cavity holes allow other teeth to move into that space (think: general admission seating at a rock concert).

By not staying in “their allotted space,” this loss can lead to other issues, such as crowding, inability of teeth to erupt….. ORTHODONTIC BILLS :)

 

Primary teeth should be fixed to:

  1. Eliminate pain or the potential for discomfort
  2. Maintain space for the adult teeth to erupt
  3. Remove bacteria from the mouth

Hopefully, this helps answer the question.  I’m sorry if any Timmys were harmed in the making of this blog post (it wasn’t my intention).  However, the better question is:  “how do I avoid cavities?”  Speaking to your dentist is the best way to gather info.  Early is better.  Remember…. Year 1 visit!