Cavities are a common dental malady, particularly for some children because food and beverages with sugar or acids can take a toll on teeth over time. Candy and soda are obvious culprits, but even sports drinks tend to have more sugar than people realize.

Treatment for Kids’ Cavities

Some parents ask whether it’s worth treating cavities in young children since their baby teeth will end up falling out anyway. It’s still worth treating, however, to prevent infection, pain, or even bite alignment issues. Infection that starts in one tooth can spread to other nearby teeth, and as anyone whose had one knows, a toothache can negatively impact nutrition because it’s uncomfortable to chew food.

If you think your child might have a cavity, particularly if he or she has been experiencing a toothache, come see us right away.

Common Signs of Cavities in Children

It’s not always visually obvious when your child has a cavity. However, there are some signs you can look out for:

  • If your child reports discomfort while brushing certain teeth
  • Increased sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Discolorations on or around teeth
  • Bad breath that doesn’t seem to go away after brushing or using mouthwash

If you notice any of these symptoms, it’s wise to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist. These aren’t guarantees that your child has a cavity, but it’s always better to be safe than put off treating potential tooth decay.

If your child is suffering a toothache, this is a sign of an abscess (infection) which you should definitely not ignore.

child receiving dental treatment

Does my child need a filling on a baby tooth?

This depends on a few things. We do generally recommend fillings for baby teeth that are not falling out soon to prevent more invasive and expensive treatment. Unfilled baby teeth can abscess and cause infection for your child. It might make sense at first to assume that since the baby teeth are going to fall out anyway it’s not worth filling cavities in them. It’s important to remember that not all baby teeth come out at the same time. At least 12 baby teeth don’t come out until your child is 12-years old and remember that not all children lose teeth at the same time. With that in mind, we don’t want to leave a cavity untreated and risk infection. If the baby tooth is already loose and has a cavity, we may opt to just wait until it falls out. But if the tooth is causing your child pain we would recommend an extraction to move that process along rather than waiting for the tooth to fall out on its own.

Are fillings on baby teeth different than regular fillings?

No. They are made of the same materials and need to be cared for in the same ways. Adding a filling to a baby tooth is also the same process as an adult tooth.

If my child swallows a filling that comes out, is it dangerous?

No. All filling material is designed to be non-toxic so there are no chemicals that will harm your child. It will pass normally through the digestive system. The same is true if your child should swallow their baby tooth.

If a filling falls out and I’m able to save it, is it worth bringing in?

No. By the time your child’s filling has fallen out it’s ruined and can’t be used again. The process of putting a filling in a tooth is not like a puzzle, so we would need to begin from scratch

Most importantly, get your child into the dentist’s office as soon as possible to prevent further damage to the tooth, pain and abscess.

What are the main things that ruin fillings or cause them to fall out?

Nine times out of ten it’s a diet of sticky foods that causes fillings to fall out. Chewing these sticky foods pulls on the filling and can cause it to become loose over time. That includes gum, candy, and even gummy vitamins and fruit snacks. Fillings are meant to restore a tooth’s function and prevent further decay, but the filling material isn’t as strong as the tooth’s original enamel.

If my child’s filling falls out, what’s the sense of urgency?

Usually your child will be in pain. It’s very difficult to chew on a tooth with a filling that has come out. We recommend you come into the office as soon as possible to get the filling replaced even if your child isn’t experiencing pain. Not only is there a risk of infection or further damage to the tooth without a filling, but the longer you wait the more difficult it can be to place a new filling in the tooth and it puts the underlying adult tooth at risk.

Other Information Related to Kids Fillings

child receiving dental treatment

Why Did My Child’s Filling Fall Out?

If you find that your child had a filling or a sealant done and your dentist tells you that the filling has come out, don’t panic! Sometimes the filling may need to be replaced or the tooth may need a crown. When it comes to why the fillings came out, these are a few ideas of what the culprit may be. Read more.

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10 Ways To Prevent Decay in Your Children's Teeth

There are many preventative measures that you can take when it comes to avoiding decay in your children’s teeth but most of them have to do with diet and dental habits. Dental habits are something that kids often learn from their parents based on how well they see their parents take care of their own teeth, and how strongly they encourage their children to do the same. Read more.