Although baby teeth are only temporary, they serve an important purpose. They help guide the adult teeth into proper positions and have an impact on speech development, among other things. Even with proper home care, kids can still get cavities. To fix this, and prevent further damage, dental fillings are used.
Bacteria in the mouth feeds on sugar in the things we eat and drink. This creates an acid that erodes the enamel of the tooth, creating a cavity. To preserve your child’s oral health, the dentist will either use a dental filling, or a crown. These options will restore functionality to the tooth and help preserve it until the adult tooth erupts.
After the decayed portion of the tooth has been removed, the dentist will fill the hole with either a composite material or metal. While there are other filling and crown materials, like gold and ceramic, they are rarely used for children. Metal fillings are often used because they are less expensive and take less time to put it. Parents are usually fine with this cost-effective method since the tooth will eventually fall out.
After the filling is finished, it is important to continue good oral hygiene habits. There is a chance that the decay can return, especially if the cavity was between two teeth. If the decay returns, your child will need to have the filling replaced, or have a dental crown placed.
Decay isn’t the only reason for dental fillings. Trauma to the tooth can result in cracks or chips. These can be corrected with dental fillings. In these circumstances, if the damaged tooth is in the front, or the very back, your dentist may opt for a crown to provide a better correction.
Despite best efforts, sometimes a dental filling is not an option. If decay is too advanced, or the trauma is too bad, the tooth must be extracted. Because baby teeth serve as place holders for the adult teeth, dentists will only pull them if it is absolutely necessary. Often, a prosthetic is placed to maintain the correct space for the adult tooth to erupt.
If your child is very young or nervous the dentist may choose to use nitrous oxide, also known as laughing gas. This helps to reduce anxiety while distracting them from the pain of the Novocaine shot that will numb the area. Although it is a great tool, laughing gas does not work for all kids. Therefore, your dentist may choose to use an oral sedative instead.
If your child has more than one cavity, the dentist may be able to fill them all in one sitting. However, depending on your child, it may only be possible to fill one at a time. While some kids can sit in the chair for long periods, others are not. To ensure the best outcome, your child may require multiple visits.
Its okay to be nervous about your child’s first dental filling. However, we do our best to develop a treatment plan that is just right for your child. We aim to preserve the baby teeth while keeping you and your child comfortable and happy.