This is a common question about baby teeth, especially since the assumption is that since the baby teeth will eventually fall out they aren’t worth fixing.
Like any tooth with a cavity, left untreated the tooth can decay and potentially become infected. This can cause pain and lead to red, swollen gums around the affected area that also make it difficult for your child to eat.
At that point it tends to become a priority to seek treatment.
Treatment for a cavity in a baby tooth is a judgement call. Depending on the child’s age, a minor cavity that isn’t causing any pain may indeed be simpler to leave alone for a brief time if the tooth is starting to become loose, or due to be soon.
Generally, though, that is not the recommendation. We always recommend bringing your child in for an exam if you suspect they have a cavity on a baby tooth so we can determine the most appropriate treatment.
If caught early enough, it’s far more ideal to clean and fill the cavity than to allow it to worsen to the point where the tooth needs to be extracted.
“But if the baby tooth is going to fall out on its own eventually anyway, what difference does it make to pull the tooth?”
The significance is that all adult teeth have their own schedule for when they erupt through the gums and grow in to replace the baby tooth. The baby tooth being gone does not in itself automatically trigger the adult tooth to grow in its place.
This means that pulling a baby tooth early can mean your child having a gap in their teeth for a potentially long and inconvenient period of time. This is made more significant if other nearby baby teeth become loose and fall out, leaving your child with a whole section of their mouth with no teeth.
Properly chewing food becomes more difficult, then.
If you think your child might have a cavity in a baby tooth, call our office today to schedule an exam.