1. Cavities Hurt
Cavities cause sensitivity to hot and cold food. Your child might avoid eating hard food or chew only on one side of the mouth. If there is a tooth infection, your child might be waking up at night crying because of tooth pain. We want to avoid tooth infection as it can cause great distress, pain and a trip to the emergency room.
2. Cavities are Infectious
Cavities are the most common infectious disease in children. It is caused by bacteria, which use sugar in the mouth to cause rotting. Cavities are five times more common than asthma in children. It can spread from parent to child or sibling to sibling if you are sharing utensils or food. If we leave cavities untreated, they will only get bigger and spread to the next baby tooth or adult tooth underneath.
3. Baby Teeth are Weaker than Adult Teeth
Baby teeth are very small and cavities get bigger very fast. Without a perfectly healthy diet and oral hygiene, a baby tooth can go from having a small cavity to dental abscess in few months.
4. Protect the Adult Teeth
Adult teeth start forming from the birth. If the baby teeth are not fixed, the cavity can spread to the adult teeth while they are forming. This results in weak and deformed adult teeth.
5. Cavities Hurt Self-Esteem
Your child might not want to smile because of cavities on the front teeth. Your child might not want to talk for fear of being teased for having black teeth or bad breath.
6. Can’t You Just Pull Them Out?
Baby teeth guide adult teeth eruption into the correct position. If we extract baby teeth too early, we need to put in a space maintainer (see picture below). Otherwise, the back teeth will push forward and there will not be space for future adult teeth. It is important to hold on to baby teeth as long as we can or place a space maintainer if baby teeth are hurting.
7. Aren’t They Just Going to Fall Out Anyway?
Not for a while. Front adult teeth begin to appear at 6-7 years of age. Back adult teeth don’t come in until 10-12 years of age. It is a long time to leave teeth untreated. For more specific age for teeth eruption, click this link from Canadian Dental Association.
Dr. Ella Choi is a certified specialist in pediatric dentistry serving South Surrey, White Rock, Langley and Aldergrove in Beautiful British Columbia.