Is it really necessary to fill baby teeth?

My six year old has several fillings already in her baby teeth. Is it really necessary to put fillings in baby teeth?

Question:

The answer to your question is "yes" and "no". It is not necessary to remove the decay and place a filling in a primary tooth that will soon come out, especially if the decay is shallow and presenting no problems to the child. If the tooth is close to exfoliation (coming out on it's own) and has a large amount of decay which is causing an infection and/or discomfort to the child, extraction should be considered.

On the other hand, if the child will have have the primary tooth for several more months or years, removing the decay and placing a filling is necessary. Even though primary teeth are eventually lost, they serve many important and key roles while they are present. This alone makes them worth the care they require. In addition, infection can affect the developing permanent teeth and cause discomfort if the decay is allowed to progress untreated.

Primary teeth provide cosmetics, phonetics, mechanical digestion and bone growth. A major function of the back primary teeth, which usually do not come out until about 10 to 12 years of age, is space maintenance and guidance for eruption of the posterior permanent teeth. If these primary posterior teeth are lost prematurely due to untreated decay, some type of space must be maintained to allow the permanent tooth proper space.

If too many primary teeth are lost prematurely due to untreated decay, this will affect the child's ability to chew. This may affect digestion and/or nutrition. It can also affect development of the jaw joint (TMJ) and bone growth necessary to create proper space and relationships for eruption of permanent teeth. Speech patterns and development could be affected. Missing and decayed teeth can also be detrimental to a child's self esteem.

The primary teeth play a vital role in a child's growth and development. They should not be ignored or left untreated simply because the child will one day lose them.

Answer:
Need Advice?
Get answers from iVillage experts and other moms just like you!
ASK YOUR QUESTION
Question Details
Subject
  1. Pick a subject:
Connect with 1,039,394 members just like you
Share your knowledge, ask questions.