Restorative Dentistry at Eastside Pediatric Dental Group
We know that most baby teeth will fall out naturally, but before that time, these teeth serve many important purposes:
- Allowing your child to chew food into adolescence
- Assisting in speech
- Holding space for the permanent teeth to come in properly
- Helping your child to have a beautiful smile
Neglecting baby teeth can result in cavities, pain, and infection. This can translate into sleepless nights, time missed from school, and the expense of the needed corrective treatment.
How a Cavity Begins
Certain bacteria living in the mouth ferment the sugars and starches that we eat. This results in the production of acid. If a tooth continues to be 'attacked' by acid, there will be a loss of minerals, which can result in a cavity or hole in the tooth. As more and more acid is produced, the mouth becomes too acidic or 'toxic' for the healthy bacteria to survive. And this allows harmful bacteria to take over. These bacteria stick to teeth and to each other, forming plaque. Plaque is a bacteria-filled film that accumulates on all surfaces of the teeth. This concentrates the acid at the tooth's surface and buffers the bacteria from the neutralizing action of the saliva.
The size of the cavity and the age of the patient will often determine what treatment is best.
Here is a guide for how to identify a cavity:
- Cavities appear as white spots on the teeth. A change in habits and use of special toothpaste or rinses can strengthen the tooth and may prevent the need for fillings.
- Small cavities that can be seen in the mouth or on X-rays. These teeth will likely be treated with tooth colored fillings. In most cases, the tooth may need to be numbed using “sleepy drops.”
- Cavities that are very large may not have enough healthy tooth structure to support a filling and will need to be fixed using a crown or a cap. For front teeth, we use tooth colored crowns and for back teeth, we use stainless steel crowns, which are silver in color. If the tooth has too little healthy tooth structure to support a crown, we will need to remove the tooth.
- Cavities into the nerves of the teeth, when appropriate, will require tooth nerve treatment. In these cases, it may be necessary to remove the tooth if the tooth is too sick to fix.
When back teeth have been removed before they are ready to come out naturally, it may be best that we preserve the space with a space maintainer. This space maintainer will keep the space open for the permanent tooth that comes in to replace the extracted baby tooth. If your child requires that a tooth be removed, we will determine if your child would benefit from a space maintainer.