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Women with her daughter

Since baby teeth fall out eventually, do you technically even need to fix them? The short answer is yes, but the story doesn’t end there. As a parent, if your child is diagnosed with cavities you actually can consider several options. You can…

1. Schedule an appointment to get the cavity filled. Your dentist will usually let you know the best time frame for the appointment with the least risk of discomfort to your child.

The advantages of this approach include:

  • Preventing the cavity from growing deeper into the nerves.
  • Reducing the danger of an untreated dental infection leading to sepsis (a sometimes deadly infection in the bloodstream).
  • Catching the cavity before your child experiences tooth pain.
  • Reducing the risk that your child will need more invasive treatment for a deeper cavity, such as a root canal.

The disadvantages could be:

  • Your child may experience some discomfort in the filling process.
  • A cracked or unsealed filling in baby teeth can sometimes let bacteria in and cause complications in permanent teeth.
  • Setting up another dental appointment could mean more time away from school or another planned activity.

2. Take a “wait and see” approach. If the cavity has not entered the nerve yet, your child may not be experiencing pain yet. You can wait to see if the cavity will grow deeper into the nerves and only then fill the cavity. Just don’t forget to ask your dentist how far out you should schedule an appointment to get it checked again.

The advantages of this approach:

  • Gives you the opportunity to see if your child’s tooth will heal itself.
  • Buys you a little bit of time, if you need the financial space.

The disadvantages could be:

  • You’ll still need to set up another appointment to keep the cavity monitored.
  • Depending on the depth and aggression of the cavity, the cavity could get worse, cause pain or increase treatment complications.
  • You run the risk of waiting too long to get it filled.

3. Get a second opinion. Keep in mind that general/family dentists don’t typically use as many cavity-detection methods as pediatric dentists do to diagnose early cavities. They tend to have a less-cautious approach. Read why dentists can disagree on how many cavities your child has here.

The advantages of this approach:

  • Another professional opinion could set your mind at ease.

The disadvantages could be:

  • Reestablishing care often takes more effort than having a conversation about your concerns with your current dentist.
  • Delaying care until you can be seen by another dentist could increase the level of damage and/or pain your child experiences.
  • It’s possible for another dentist to be less cautious in the methods they use to diagnose early cavities.

Bottom line? We believe you should be able to make an informed decision alongside your child’s pediatric dentist! So when the dentist tells you that your child has a cavity, feel free to ask for details about the extent of the decay, and whether your child’s dentist recommends methods for rebuilding the enamel or establishing a plan to monitor the cavity! We want to take a cautious and thorough approach, seeking your child’s best interest, and partnering with you in caring for your child’s teeth!

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