A cavity is a small hole in the tooth’s enamel that is caused by decay. Tooth decay happens when plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, builds up on your teeth and starts to eat away at the layer of your teeth. If cavities are not treated, they can get bigger and eventually lead to pain, infection, and even tooth loss.
Did you know that cavities are pretty common in baby teeth because they are softer than adult teeth, allowing plaque to build up more quickly? For this reason, cavities in baby teeth shouldn’t be left untreated. But you might be thinking—aren’t children going to lose those teeth anyway? What good does it do to fill the cavities now?
Understanding Baby Teeth
The idea that baby teeth are less important than adult teeth might come from the fact that they’re only there for a short time. But that couldn’t be further from the truth. However short-lived, primary teeth should not be considered disposable; untreated cavities can cause immediate injury and have long-term effects on the development of a child’s mouth.
The first baby teeth, or primary teeth, typically appear around 6 months of age. By the time a child is 3 years old, they will have a full set of 20 primary teeth. These teeth play an important role in a child’s development and health. They help with chewing and eating, aid in speech development, and maintain space for permanent adult teeth.
How Cavities Affect Your Child
Cavities in baby teeth are just as serious as cavities in permanent teeth. Infection is one of the most serious complications of cavities. When a tooth is decayed, bacteria can enter the pulp (the center of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels are located). This can cause an infection, which can lead to pain, swelling, and eventually, tooth loss.
Your child’s speech development can also be affected by untreated cavities. If a cavity is located on the front teeth, it can affect the way a child forms certain sounds. This can make it difficult for them to be understood when they speak.
Eating properly can become a challenge with cavities as well. Cavities that are left untreated can become larger and eventually cause the tooth to fall out. This can make it difficult for children to chew their food properly, which can lead to problems with nutrition.
Treating Cavities in Baby Teeth
The best way to treat cavities is to prevent them from happening in the first place. You can help prevent cavities by teaching your child to brush their teeth at least twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and to floss once a day. You should also take your child to the dentist for regular checkups and cleanings.
If your child does get a cavity, the best way to treat it is to have it filled by a dentist. The dentist will remove the decay and fill the cavity with a material that will restore the tooth’s shape and function. In some cases, a crown (a cap that covers the entire tooth) may be necessary to protect the tooth from further damage.
Trust Brock North Dental
Cavities in baby teeth are a serious matter that should not be taken lightly. If you think your child may have a cavity, it is important to take them to the dentist as soon as possible. The sooner the cavity is treated, the less damage it will cause and the easier it will be to treat.