Finding out that your child has a cavity can be disappointing, but you may be relieved when you find out it is in a baby tooth. This doesn't mean that you can skip treatment, though. The following guide can help you understand these types of cavities and provide some strategies for helping your child through treatment.
Why is it important to treat baby tooth cavities?
There are a couple of reasons why you can't simply ignore these cavities or pull the tooth. First and foremost, baby teeth are place holders for the permanent teeth. Removing these too early can cause teeth to shift so that the adult teeth do not come in properly aligned. Baby teeth are also necessary for properly learning to speak and chew. Finally, missing teeth prematurely can affect a child's self-esteem.
What types of fillings are used for the baby teeth?
The options are generally the same for children as they are for adults. Metal amalgam fillings are the least expensive and quickest to place of the regular fillings, but they are visible. Plastic or resin fillings take a little longer to place and shape properly, but they are invisible. There is also a stop-gap filling, called a sedative filling. These contain items, like clove oil, that numb pain from an inflamed or exposed pulp. These only last a few months, so a pediatric dentist usually only uses these for teeth that will be falling out soon. They may also use them for extremely young children that can't yet sit still for a normal filling. They will then replace it with a more permanent option when your child is older.
Will the procedure be painful?
It may be uncomfortable, but not painful. To help keep your child calm, avoid treating it as punishment for poor oral hygiene. Instead, treat it as an exciting, good thing – a chance to improve health. This will help minimize your child's fear. Children are usually given a numbing agent so they don't feel much more than pressure. Very young children may be given an oral sedative to further help them stay still. There may be a bit of uncomfortable irritation as the numbing agents wear off, but most children recover within a few hours.
Are there special aftercare requirements?
Generally, no, although you may want to avoid giving your child especially sticky foods and candies that could dislodge a filling. Your child may also suffer from some tooth sensitivity to hot or cold. Avoid extremely hot or cold foods and drinks for a few days. If the issue continues, you can switch to a children's toothpaste made for sensitive teeth.