Do young children need to get fillings in milk teeth?
There is a common misconception that young children’s milk teeth or baby teeth are temporary and are not a big deal to look after. Why spend money on dental treatment for a tooth that is going to fall out soon anyway? Loock Dental would like to explain why it is so important to treat dental problems in milk teeth quickly.
It essential to care for babies’ and toddlers’ teeth and gum health right from the very beginning. You can read our blog posts on how to care for young children’s teeth (complete with links to child-friendly resources in English and Afrikaans) here and here. If things go wrong and a child does get gum disease or a cavity, then treating this as soon as possible is particularly important.
Why fix a tooth that is going to fall out anyway?
Children need their milk teeth in order to learn to speak correctly (you can read our post on speech development and the impact of teeth here), as well as to chew their food. While natural gaps will happen as the milk teeth fall out and new teeth grow in, these happen in a staggered way so that the child will develop appropriate eating and speaking habits at the right times. Losing some of your precious few young teeth can make this development harder than it needs to be.
On top of this, while children’s jaws and permanent or adult teeth are growing, they need the milk teeth to stay in the correct spots until the right moment for your child to lose them naturally. This is because milk teeth act as placeholders, keeping existing teeth in position and holding a nice open space for the new tooth to grow into.
It is the new tooth emerging that pushes out the existing milk or baby tooth, so when that tooth is loose, it means the next tooth is in position and ready to push its way into a newly vacated space.
Teeth that get knocked out accidentally, or have to be pulled out because of problematic cavities, leave a gap before there is a tooth waiting to fill it, and this can lead to the teeth on either side growing into the space, or moving around, leading to problems when the tooth underneath the gap needs to emerge.
Can cavities in milk teeth affect permanent teeth underneath?
Unfortunately, cavities in milk teeth can harm the permanent teeth underneath them. Untreated cavities or holes in baby teeth can lead to infections passing through to the teeth underneath, as well as the surrounding gums. Root canal treatments are unfortunately incredibly difficult to do safely on milk teeth because there is a high risk of damaging the adult tooth below, so Loock Dental do not perform this procedure, and there is a high chance the milk tooth will be lost if the cavity is too serious.
Please also bear in mind that any infection of the tooth and gums does not only affect the mouth and your child’s smile, but can also harm your child’s overall health and well-being. Please read our post on how oral health impacts general heath for more information.
In conclusion, good oral health care and regular dental check ups are as important for young children as they are for teens and adults. So please get your children brushing and flossing and make those dental appointments on time to keep their smiles, and yours, bright!