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Your Child Has a Cavity—Now What?

February 07, 2020

Tooth decay is the number one most common chronic childhood illness, more common than both asthma and diabetes. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry estimates that roughly 60% of children will develop at least one cavity by the age of five. Unfortunately, factors like genetics, bad dental habits, an abundance of sugary foods and drinks, and weak enamel from baby teeth all increase your little one’s risk of tooth decay. If your son or daughter develops a cavity, here are some important questions to ask about taking care of their precious smile.

Does a Cavity in a Baby Tooth Need to be Filled?

Some parents are reluctant to spend time and money on a filling for a baby tooth. While it’s true that these primary teeth are designed to fall out over time, they should still be treated for tooth decay right away. Just like permanent teeth, leaving a cavity untreated in a baby tooth could quickly lead to sensitivity, toothaches, and infections.

Additionally, the health of your child’s baby teeth influences the development of their permanent teeth. A decaying primary tooth could become infected, and that harmful bacteria could begin attacking and damaging the permanent tooth growing underneath. If the baby tooth needs to be extracted, the permanent tooth may come in crooked or misaligned.  

What Type of Filling Should a Child Get?

Currently, there are two main methods of filling cavities in smiles of all ages:

  • Amalgam fillings are created with a mixture of metals. They are very durable and long-lasting, but they may damage the tooth if exposed to hot or cold and often require extra drilling. Additionally, they contain mercury, which is an element known to be toxic to humans.
  • Composite fillings, or metal-free fillings, are created with a tooth-colored composite resin. This material isn’t as durable as amalgam, but it is more flexible and requires less drilling to install. It also blends into the surrounding teeth and supports the tooth’s structure.

Typically, composite fillings are the best choice for children because they are more natural looking, support the tooth, and require less drilling.

Why Choose a Pediatric Dentist?

It’s important to choose your dentist carefully when your little one needs a filling. This early experience of dental work could easily lay the foundation of how they view oral health care for the rest of their lives. Pediatric dentists have taken additional training in order to:

  • Care for the unique needs of primary teeth.
  • Create a welcoming, child-friendly environment.
  • Teach children about oral health in a fun and understandable way.
  • Keep a child calm and relaxed during treatments like fillings.
  • Help children feel as comfortable and confident as possible during their appointment.

You can help lower your son or daughter’s risk of tooth decay by instilling healthy habits early in their life. Routinely brushing and flossing every day, cutting back on sugary treats, and regularly visiting their Rowlett pediatric dentist can help your child continue to enjoy their happy, healthy, and cavity-free smile!

About the Author

At Rowlett Dental Kids in Rowlett, TX, we are dedicated to improving your child’s overall wellbeing by keeping their smile healthy. At every routine checkup, Dr. Tera Pollock will carefully inspect your little one’s smile for any early signs of tooth decay. She aims to prevent cavities from forming in the first place with services like sealants and fluoride treatments but can also comfortably fill them with metal-free fillings. If your child has a cavity or if you have more questions, feel free to contact her via her website or at (469) 284-8895.

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