One of the most common questions parents face is how to handle cavities during their child’s dental exam. If your child has cavities there are proper ways to handle those cavities in young children. Many parents ask if teeth should be pulled, and in most cases it is better to fill a cavity rather than pull the tooth.
At Art of Pediatric Dentistry in Bellevue, WA our patients’ health is our first priority. Before any treatment is done we discuss all options with the child’s parents and develop a customized treatment plan. Our team works to provide the highest level of care to ensure your child’s oral development is not affected.
Why Are Baby Teeth Important?
Baby teeth or primary teeth play an important role in the development of children. A child’s first teeth begin to erupt between the ages of six months to two years of age. Baby teeth help children to chew food properly as they move from milk or formula to solid foods. This aids in good nutrition and lessens the risk for choking.
Primary teeth also help children to speak and develop language. If a child has missing teeth, this can affect their speech or cause issues. Keeping baby teeth healthy and in place is necessary to ensure a child develops their speech properly. Primary teeth also help a child’s jaw growth or bite. If a child has missing teeth this can affect the development of the jaw, and lead to other orthodontic problems in the future.
Why Should You Keep Baby Teeth?
Baby teeth are meant to be kept in the mouth until they naturally fall out. Baby teeth help to hold space for the permanent tooth and prevent any collapsing due to empty space. If the surrounding teeth collapse this can cause the permanent tooth to be affected and erupt in the wrong position. In some cases permanent teeth can become impacted where they are unable to erupt at all. In addition, if a child has had multiple teeth removed this can cause their dental arch to collapse, create severe crowding, or even affect their airway.
How Should Cavities in Children Be Treated?
Small cavities in children are common and in most cases the cavity has begun the stage of softening or weakening the hard shell or enamel. At this point the cavity can still be reversed and we do not recommend treatment. To stop the progression we recommend good brushing and flossing to help stop the decay on the teeth.
If the cavity is severe we may recommend a filling to stop the decaying process and protect the permanent tooth underneath as well as the surrounding teeth. This allows the baby tooth to remain in the mouth until the tooth naturally falls out on its own.
When Is It Safe to Pull a Baby Tooth?
There are times when pulling a tooth may be necessary. Using X-rays Dr. Yu Ong will examine the primary tooth and determine where the permanent tooth is positioned. If the permanent tooth is close to eruption, pulling the tooth is safe. If the permanent tooth is not ready to erupt, pulling a primary tooth is risky, and the primary tooth should be kept in place.
If the cavity is so small that there is no risk to the permanent tooth or surrounding teeth, it is best to leave the primary tooth in place and let it fall out naturally. For children that have issues with the placement of permanent teeth, a primary tooth may need to be removed to help produce a better result in the future.
Looking for a Pediatric Dentist Near You?
Our goal at Art of Pediatric Dentistry is to always keep a child’s primary teeth in place, and only remove them if absolutely necessary. We want our pediatric patients to love visiting our office. Our skilled and caring staff always work to ensure each appointment is an amazing and positive experience.
If you are looking for a pediatric dentist in Bellevue, WA or have concerns about tooth extractions or dental fillings, contact our team to set up a consultation appointment for your child. Our friendly staff will be happy to assist you!