Our pediatric dentist says my 5-year-old daughter has two cavities that need fillings. None of my three older children had cavities that needed filling. I wonder why it’s necessary on primary teeth anyway since they eventually fall out. Are the fillings necessary? Thank you. Harper from TN
Thank you for your question. We understand your concerns and that you do not want unnecessary treatment for your daughter. Although one of our dentists would need to examine your daughter’s teeth and x-rays, we will explain why a dentist may recommend filling cavities in primary teeth.
Do Children’s Cavities Need to Be Filled?
A child’s cavities may need fillings because tooth decay can cause further complications and concerns without treatment. We will discuss five reasons why filling cavities is healthy for children.
- Prevents Infection – Untreated tooth decay can become an infection in the tooth pulp and lead to a pulpotomy, a procedure like a root canal treatment for adults. According to the American Association of Pediatric Dentistry, tooth infections increase the risk of children developing an infection in other parts of their body, including the ears, sinuses, and brain.
- Supports Permanent Teeth Eruption – Primary teeth preserve the place for permanent teeth and help guide them into place. If primary teeth fall out early due to decay, permanent teeth can erupt incorrectly and cause teeth misalignment.
- Improves Function – Cavities can interrupt tooth function. Trying to avoid chewing on a tooth with a cavity can cause sore muscles and lead to jaw joint issues. Chewing well can become uncomfortable and challenging.
- Relieves Discomfort – Cavities can cause tenderness and other discomforts, affecting a child’s ability to sleep, eat, speak, or focus on schoolwork and activities. Also, as cavities advance, teeth can become sensitive to hot or cold foods or drinks.
- Improves Social Interactions – Depending on tooth position, decay can embarrass children and lead to bullying or teasing. Sensitivity to the appearance or odor of decayed teeth can cause anxiety about smiling or talking.
If you are unsure why the pediatric dentist recommends filling your child’s cavities, you can ask for detail. You may also see another pediatric or family dentist for a second opinion. For parents concerned about amalgam (silver) fillings, cosmetic dentists who treat children use white composite fillings that match the tooth’s color.
The Monroe, Louisiana, dentists at Bayou Dentistry sponsor this post.