There is a common misconception that there is no need to provide treatment to primary (baby) teeth since they will fall out anyway. However, the reality is that while these primary teeth may not last long, the impact they have can last a lifetime.
The reason it is so important to treat the primary teeth is because these teeth guide permanent teeth to firm and erupt in their proper position. As primary teeth (as well as secondary, for that matter) are not exempt from tooth decay, the tooth may not last as long as it should in the case of extensive decay. In fact, its absence will increase the likelihood of permanent teeth to grow in abnormally. This results in a malocclusion – in other words, a poor bite – that can be quite costly to correct.
There are several solutions to prevent malocclusion. One of the simplest methods our Dentist performs at Kennedy Dental Care is creating a space for the secondary tooth by installing a space maintainer appliance. This prevents nearby teeth drifting into the empty space intended for the secondary tooth. The best method, however, is to try to save a primary tooth from premature loss.
How Do We Save a Primary Tooth from Premature Loss?
Basically, the same way as we would with a permanent tooth. From the removal of decayed material and restoring the prepared space with composite fillings will ensure the longevity of the primary tooth until the permanent tooth is ready to erupt and push through. Our Dentist at Kennedy Dental Care encourages preventative applications in children for the best of their oral health. These applications include topical fluoride and sealants to strengthen and protect the teeth.
What If the Interior of the Primary Tooth Becomes Decayed?
This is where it becomes a bit complicated. If the interior of the tooth (also known as the pulp) becomes decayed, a more extensive procedure is required. For permanent teeth, this would require a Root Canal treatment. While this treatment is quite common, it is more complicated for primary teeth. Why? Because the permanent tooth forming below in the jaw must be considered as well as its proximity to the primary tooth. Therefore, the treatment for the decayed pulp in a primary tooth needs to be adapted for the least likely damage to the permanent tooth. A Dentist may need to perform an Indirect Pulp Treatment which is done by removing as much decayed structure as possible without entering the pulp, followed by an application of an antibacterial agent to the area. The Dentist may also remove just parts of the pulp if it is determined that the rest of the pulp tissue appears healthy, which they would then dress the wound and seal the tooth from further infection.
The procedure will depend on the extent of the decay. Our Dentist at Kennedy Dental Care will go over each possible procedure and will provide you with the best treatment to suit your child’s need in ensuring little to no damage to the permanent teeth.
To avoid requiring such an extensive treatment, it is highly recommended for children to visit the Dentist regularly and maintain a good oral hygiene routine. Treat all cavities with composite fillings to ensure the longevity of the primary teeth, and consequently the permanent teeth. And last but not least, remember to rinse your mouth with water after having sugary drinks or snacks!
Have any questions or concerns about your child’s primary teeth? Feel free to contact our office for a consultation! Our staff at Kennedy Dental Care would love to answer any of your concerns regarding your oral health.