It’s impossible not to notice — their little smile has turned upside down, and with it they’ve been glaring down at their plate of food or rubbing at their cheek on one side. Ah, yes, the tell-tale signs of a potential cavity have emerged. The next question, then, is a natural one: How should it be handled?

Should it be filled? Or pulled? Does it matter when they’re going to fall out, anyway?

If you’ve been chewing on these questions for long enough, we’re ready to help fill you in on our expert recommendations:

The Importance of Baby Teeth

“Baby teeth are very important to your child’s health and development. They help him or her chew, speak and smile,” according to the American Dental Association (ADA). “They also hold space in the jaws for permanent teeth that are growing under the gums.”

Thus, cavities and decay can present a considerable problem, even though baby teeth are ultimately not going to stay in your little one’s mouth.

If not handled properly or in a timely manner, the bacteria may lead to infection of the tooth and, consequently, the gums. Therefore, by handling cavities early, you can spare your child pain and potential long-term consequences.

One of the best ways to mitigate tooth decay is to remain mindful of what goes in their mouth. Specifically, cavity-inducing bacteria that is passed through the saliva may reach your child’s gums anytime you put your mouth on something — like a spoon or pacifier — and pass it to your child.

Filling You In On Fillings

When all is said and done, in the event of a cavity, we absolutely recommend that you opt for a filling.

“You should take your child’s cavities (also known as caries) in their primary teeth just as seriously as you should take them in permanent teeth,” Colgate explains, “meaning, you should seek the assistance of your dental professional as soon as possible for diagnosis, treatment, and to avoid other issues.”

The reason fillings are preferred over pulling the tooth, despite the impermanent nature of baby teeth, is because pulling a tooth too early may lead to crooked teeth.

As mentioned previously, baby teeth keep space for the adult teeth that will grow in later. Thus, by prematurely removing one, you may throw off the alignment of the teeth and cause them to become crooked, overcrowded, and more.

Pain-Free with Your Pediatric Dentist

Unfortunately, should a cavity form, neither you nor your child may even be aware of it.

“Cavities don’t always cause symptoms. Sometimes children don’t know they have one until their dentist finds it,” John Hopkins Medicine reports. “But your child may feel pain in the area around the tooth [and/or] sensitivity to certain foods, such as sweets and hot or cold drinks.”

Thus, one of the best ways to ensure cavities in your child’s teeth are both detected and treated in a timely manner is to bring them in for their regular dental check-ups!

That’s why, here at Setzer, Cochran, and Soares Pediatric Dentistry, we always offer your family a warm welcome and a beautiful smile! The comfort and health of your child are our priorities, and our board-certified team is ready to help combat their cavities at all ages.

To learn more or schedule an appointment, contact our office today by calling 904-733-7254 (Jacksonville) or 904-473-0600 (Ponte Vedra)!