Children's Dental Health Associates

  Why Baby Teeth  
Should Be Saved

It’s Just A Baby Tooth, Pull it!

When a child suffers from severe tooth decay, we are faced with a dilemma of how to treat the teeth that are affected. It is often surprise to parents when they learn their child has tooth decay. They question the need to restore baby teeth. In many cases, we are asked, “They are baby teeth, can you just pull them?”

Pulling baby teeth can have a great impact on your child’s long term dental health. Primary or baby teeth serve an important purpose: to save space for permanent teeth. The 20 primary teeth are replaced by 20 permanent teeth. When a baby tooth is lost before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt, it can cause surrounding teeth to tip and drift into the space. If baby teeth shift, it can create spacing issues for permanent teeth when they erupt.

Primary teeth must be present in order to provide permanent teeth with a path for eruption. Between 5-6 years of age, a child will lose their anterior teeth. Children lose their eight baby molars between 9-13 years of age. If your child loses a primary second molar too early, the permanent molar will not have a guide into its proper position. In most cases, it will drift forward, taking the space of the adjacent unerupted permanent tooth and blocking it out.

If your child is experiencing tooth decay, your dentist will recommend fillings to prevent the spread of the decay. For teeth that have experienced advanced tooth decay (where the tooth cannot be restored with a filling), your doctor may recommend your child receive a silver cap or stainless steel crown. This provides long-lasting, full coverage until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt.

If decay reaches the center of a tooth (where the blood vessel and nerves lie), your dentist can perform a pulpotomy to remove the nerve and decay. The tooth will need to be extracted if the infection spreads to the bone and causes an abscess. After an extraction is performed, a customized space maintainer should be fabricated to fit in the space. A space maintainer is a custom-fit oral appliance that stays in the mouth until the permanent tooth begins to erupt. This appliance keeps adjacent teeth from tipping or drifting into the space. After your child has been treated, it is important to have them brush their teeth daily to keep their smile bright and shining!

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