Why do fillings on baby teeth (primary teeth)?


Why do fillings on baby teeth (primary teeth)?

Baby Teeth Chart - Arbo Dental Care - Bradford

At Arbo Dental Care in Bradford, Ontario, we hear this question often.

It stems from our expectation that baby teeth fall out naturally anyway, so why bother doing a filling?

There are 20 baby teeth by the age of 3 years old, but they come out (to be replaced by adult permanent teeth) at different times. The front two baby teeth start falling out at 5-7 years of age then the remaining front teeth from 8-10 years of age, then 11-13 years of age for the canines and premolars.

Take a look at our baby teeth chart to keep track!

If a child’s baby tooth gets a cavity at 3 years old, but isn’t meant to come out until 12 years old, then we have an issue of trying to keep that tooth present for 9 years! During that time, a tooth with a visible cavity can get worse and cause pain and infection in the child, and affect the adult tooth beneath it. Once a cavity is detected, it is important to care of it right away with a filling because that’s when it is smallest.

Symptoms of pain and infection are refusal to eat, avoidance to touch in the area, cheek swelling, which will need immediate treatment. If there is infection present, then the tooth would have to be removed.

If a child is only 3 years old and there is infection of the tooth present, then the child may require sedation in order for treatment to be performed.

If the tooth is removed, the remaining teeth usually move as into the space. This will make it difficult for the adult/permanent tooth to come in 9 years later and will likely lead to moderate or severe crowding of teeth. This can be taken care of with a space maintainer. If a space maintainer is not used, then even with braces the treatment may take a long time.

Baby Teeth Space Maintainer - Arbo Dental Care - Bradford

A lot can happen because of one baby tooth.

Here are a few recommendations to avoid cavities in baby teeth:

  • Check up appointments with a dentist every year starting at 1 year old.
  • Brushing of teeth has to be done by parents up until 5 years old, then with parental assistance until 8 years old. Brush twice a day.
  • Flossing starting at 3 years old (when teeth touch) by parents up until 5 years old, then with parental assistance until 8 years old. Pro tip: use the floss picks instead of string floss, for easier flossing. Floss once a day or 4-5 times per week. We get it, it’s not always possible with kids!
  • Snacking on refined sugars between meals leads to higher risk of cavities. Avoid snacks after supper/dinner.
  • Drink water instead of juice or milk at night time.

For your complimentary check up exam for kids, send us an email or call 905-775-7377! And tell us you read our blog post 🙂

Hope this helps,
Dr. Pham and Arbo Dental Care Team