As a pediatric dental office, the majority of decay and issues we treat are on primary/baby teeth or “milk teeth” as some patients refer to them. That’s not to say we don’t treat permanent teeth as well but much of the treatment is on baby teeth. When discussing treatment needs for baby teeth, we are often asked the question “won’t these teeth just fall out?”. We’re here to help explain why it’s important to fix decay and other issues with the baby teeth even though they will eventually fall out.
Yes, these teeth will eventually fall out but we are often treating decay on kiddos who are 5 and 6 years old and the baby molars will be in their mouth until around 10-12+ years old! That’s a long time! The baby teeth are very important to keep healthy because they are place holders for the permanent teeth that will eventually take their place. If a tooth falls out prematurely or has to be taken out because it has too large of decay to fix or an abscess/infection has formed, the teeth can shift and then adequate space for the permanent tooth will no longer be there. A space maintainer can be placed if a tooth is removed prematurely but there is no better placeholder for the permanent teeth than the baby teeth.
When there is decay on baby teeth on a child who is a little older, it is still important to get these teeth treated. Often times, these teeth are next to permanent teeth and leaving the untreated decay next to these permanent teeth is not a good idea! The decay can spread to the permanent teeth and cause cavities on these teeth as well. It is very unhealthy to leave decay untreated in the mouth, whether it is on baby teeth or permanent teeth. If left untreated, the decay can cause pain and possibly lead to life threatening infection. The decay can travel to other teeth and even other areas of our body. Our mouths are connected to our bodies and decay/bacteria in the mouth can cause many problems if left untreated. It can cause problems with our hearts, brains and other parts of our bodies as the decay travels throughout our bloodstream into other parts of the body, not just to other teeth!
All in all, it’s extremely important to keep your kiddos teeth healthy! If they happen to get cavities in their baby teeth, we are here to help and get them back to a healthy mouth. Please never hesitate to contact us or ask us any questions when you’re here for their next appointment!