Should You Fix Cavities on Baby Teeth?

It’s a common question: if cavities form in baby teeth, should the cavity be filled? Why go through the expense, discomfort and trouble if the tooth is just going to fall out eventually anyway?  The quick answer is yes, the cavities – often also called dental caries – should be filled. And here are just a few of the reasons why:

Cavities can impact a child’s eating habits and nourishment: Pain when chewing can cause a child to avoid certain foods or choose not to eat all together. This can lead to poor nutrition and additional health concerns.

Cavities can cause bite issues and other teeth misalignment concerns: Dental caries in baby teeth or milk teeth can cause pain, discomfort and may even lead to the incorrect eruption of permanent teeth. Overbite, under bite, cross bite or crooked teeth may result, leading to the need for orthodontic treatment.

Cavities can damage other baby teeth and permanent, adult teeth: When decay takes hold in a baby tooth, it is not only damaging to that particular tooth.  Bacteria can spread within the mouth and below the gum line, causing significant damage to other teeth as well.

Cavities can cause severe tooth and mouth pain: When advanced enough, cavities can hurt quite a bit.  This pain can lead to emotional and behavioral concerns and may even impact school performance and concentration.

Cavities can affect speech:  Left unchecked, painful cavities can impact speech development in children.  Mouth pain can cause young children to choose not to speak at all, or children may form sounds and words incorrectly in an effort to avoid pain.

Do you wonder if your little one has cavities? Common signs and symptoms include, pain in a tooth or teeth when chewing or brushing, pain below the gum line near a particular tooth, tooth sensitivity to hot or cold, visible holes, discoloration or spots on the teeth and persistent bad breath that is not corrected with brushing, mouthwash and oral cleaning.

If you suspect that your child has a cavity, make an appointment with a pediatric dental health care provider right away.  Pediatric dentists are experts in addressing the specifics involved with children’s dental care.  Not only do they have specialized treatment methods created to address the needs and smaller size of children, they are also masters at alleviating children’s dental anxiety and oral health care concerns.

Dental cavities in children can be treated in a variety of ways.  If the cavity is caught very early, your dentist may discuss remineralization with you, a process that allows the tooth to heal itself. If this is not possible, your dentist may suggest a filling, crown, extraction or root canal, depending upon your child’s situation. Only in cases where a tooth is very close to falling out may a dentist suggest not treating a cavity. Otherwise, some sort of treatment will very likely be needed. Pediatric dentists often use laughing gas, sedation dentistry and a variety of comfort measures to ensure that children are as comfortable as possible during treatments.

Childhood tooth decay is much more common than asthma, obesity or diabetes. But childhood dental decay can be prevented.  Schedule regular dental checkups for your child starting at age one.  Early detection is one of the very best ways to avoid tooth decay and damage, and early-age dental visits encourage proper dental hygiene, as well. Don’t let fear of the unknown or dental anxiety keep you from taking your child to the dentist. Addressing pediatric dental concerns as soon as possible and maintaining a regular checkup schedule and good overall hygiene will keep both you and your child smiling and happy!

To learn more about painless dental procedures, visit to find a Dental Vibe dentist near you.

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