Cavities in Baby Teeth: Do They Need to be Filled?

If you aren’t a dentist, you may make the logical assumption that since baby teeth fall out before adult teeth erupt, cavities in baby teeth don’t require treatment.

This assumption is dead wrong.

It neglects to consider that developing permanent teeth can become infected within a child’s jaw. The truth is, adult teeth can incur cavities even before they emerge from the gums.

What can you do to help your little one avoid cavities in baby teeth? This blog will tell you everything you need to know.

For comfortable, child-focused pediatric dentistry, schedule a visit with our pediatric dentists at Children’s Dental Zone in Johns Creek. Call 770-777-1222 or visit our website to schedule your appointment today.

What Is Tooth Decay in Children?

The dark decay that we call cavities is actually what’s left behind after bacteria eat away tooth enamel.

When a baby is born, he has no teeth and no S. mutans in his mouth. S. mutans is the bacteria responsible for cavities in both baby teeth and adult teeth. Infants acquire this bacteria by kissing or eating after parents. By the time a baby is six months old and cutting teeth, he could have had S. mutans lurking in his mouth for months.

When starches, including the sugars in milk, enter the mouth, bad bacteria gobble them up. The warm, wet, dark environment of the mouth, and a ready supply of starches allow S. mutans and other harmful bacteria to speedily reproduce and thrive.

Add to this saga that starches cause enamel-strengthening minerals to leach out of teeth, leaving them soft and defenseless against cavity-causing bacteria. For up to a few hours after eating starches, teeth remineralize. They soak up phosphorus and calcium from saliva and regain hardness.

In its hardened state, tooth enamel is the hardest substance the human body produces. In fact, tooth enamel is the second hardest surface nature produces, next to diamonds.
FUN FACT: Sharks don’t get cavities! Unlike human teeth, shark teeth are naturally coated with cavity-deterring fluoride.

If you take good care of your child’s oral health at home and by attending dental visits, your efforts will prove effective. Your little one will be less likely to develop cavities in baby teeth and more likely to avoid the need for dental treatments.

How to Remove S. Mutans

Infant mouth care:

To deter cavities in baby teeth, parents should wipe out a baby’s mouth after every meal. Simply moisten a soft cloth with pure water, then rub it along the baby’s tongue, roof of mouth, interior cheeks, and gums.

Baby mouth care:

When a child develops a single tooth, parents should begin twice-daily brushing. Use an infant toothbrush and a rice-sized dab of non-fluoridated toothpaste.

There’s no need to floss until teeth develop next to one another, but be sure that your child swishes water in his/her mouth after brushing. Teach him to spit – and when he can do that, he can graduate to fluoridated toothpaste.

Toddler mouth care:

By age three to five, a child should know how to brush his teeth, supervised and aided by his parents. Always, always evaluate your child’s work and re-brush if necessary.

One of the best ways you can help your little one avoid cavities in baby teeth is by taking him to dental checkups every six months.

By his first birthday, a baby should have visited a pediatric dentist’s office for a first checkup. Around age five, kids can begin six-month cleanings and checkups, just like Mom and Dad.

Baby Bottle Tooth Decay

Baby bottle tooth decay is a serious problem, causing pain and destroying oral health in babies and toddlers.

This condition occurs when a child sucks on a juice-filled bottle or sippy cup slowly, all day or night. The constant introduction of sugar to the top and bottom front teeth keep enamel soft, while also feeding bad bacteria that cause cavities.

The result? A seeming mouthful of decaying baby teeth.
The cure? Crowns and fillings for all of the infected teeth.

As a parent, you can save your child from developing baby bottle tooth decay by never allowing your little one to fall asleep with a bottle or cup, unless it’s filled with pure water: no sugars, no starches.

Limit juice drinks and milk to mealtimes, with sips of water throughout the day.

If you notice that your child has a cavity or a discolored baby tooth, immediately schedule a checkup with our pediatric dentist.

Early intervention can allow for effective, minimally invasive treatment. The longer cavities are left untreated, the more infection they cause.

How Cavities in Baby Teeth are Treated

Once a tooth develops decay, you can do nothing to correct the problem. There’s no alternative but to visit our dentist.

At Children’s Dental Zone, we understand kids and parents. To cater to children, we look them in the eye, smile, and encourage them to be happy in our office.

Everything in our practice is designed for children. We also take time to educate parents, because parents should always manage and correct their children’s dental health habits.

  • If your child has one or more cavities, we will talk with you about treatment options. For small to medium cavities, an all-white dental filling will restore a tooth’s health, strength, and appearance. Larger cavities may require treatment with a stainless steel crown.
  • Crowns cover the entire portion of a tooth that’s above the gumline. Two appointments are required because our crowns are made in a dental lab. Fillings can be completed in a single appointment.
  • We also use ionomers to fill cavities between teeth or below the gumline. Glass ionomers emit fluoride, a mineral that attracts calcium and phosphorus to strengthen tooth enamel.
  • For kids who don’t yet have cavities on molars, we suggest dental sealants. Made of clear or tooth-colored material, dental sealants are brushed onto the chewing surface of teeth to smooth the surface and reduce areas where plaque and food can become trapped. Sealants naturally wear off over about a decade, so they never need to be removed. However, sealants may need an occasional touch-up.

Ready for a Dental Checkup?

Babies should visit us by age one, and children over one need to attend checkups twice a year. By age five, children need checkups and professional dental cleanings.

Our fun, professional team at Children’s Dental Zone want to partner with you, to help your little ones avoid cavities in baby teeth and permanent teeth.

Call our kid’s dentists today in Johns Creek at 770-777-1222 or schedule an appointment online.

We are here to answer your questions!

Fill out the form below and we will be in touch with shortly!

    We are providing this Contact Us form as a convenience but your message to us should not imply the creation of a doctor-patient relationship (which only happens when you come to our office for a visit). We therefore ask that you not include personal health information in your message. Please call us if you’d like to send us personal information so that we can make sure it’s handled securely.