Do Baby Teeth Need To Be Pulled If There’s Severe Decay?

If your child has severe decay and his or her teeth cannot support a filling, you may wonder if the tooth will need to be pulled. While some baby teeth may need to be pulled, there may be other ways to save the baby tooth. Read on to learn why decay needs to be taken care of in baby teeth and how a pediatric dentist can help your child.

Why is Decay in Baby Teeth So Bad?

The American Academy of Pediatrics says that the enamel in baby teeth is actually thinner than adult teeth, so it's easy for cavities to take hold. Decay in baby teeth can become extensive enough that it can affect the underlying adult teeth. Untreated decay can also leave your child prone to painful abscesses or even sepsis. So it's important that your child visits a pediatric dentist to get treated for tooth decay.

Why Are Extractions Usually a Last Resort?

Some people may think that if a baby tooth gets a cavity it isn't so bad since these teeth could be pulled, or they'll eventually fall out anyway.

However, baby teeth are meant to save room for adult teeth, so if they fall out too early, then your child may have overcrowding when adult teeth erupt. He or she might need orthodontic devices, like space maintainers to save room for adult teeth.

Baby teeth are needed for your child to eat comfortably and develop proper speech habits. In short, your dentist will do everything she or he can to prevent an extraction in a decayed tooth. 

How Can Baby Teeth Be Saved?

If a decayed tooth cannot support a filling, then your dentist may opt for a baby root canal. Baby root canals are similar to other root canals, but they are done on primary teeth instead. During this treatment, your pediatric dentist would remove the pulp, or living part of the tooth that's been infected.

Another option to treat tooth decay is by covering the area with a stainless steel crown. While this treatment doesn't remove all of the decay, the goal is to just protect the remaining tooth long enough until it falls out on its own. The stainless steel crown will fall out when the baby tooth is ready to come out. Stainless steel crowns are easy to place and can be a good option if your dentist doesn't want to have your child do a root canal.

If a baby tooth cannot be saved, then it may be best to have the tooth extracted. While this isn't ideal, it's better to nip the decay in the bud. To avoid this problem in the future, your dentist may recommend more frequent cleanings and apply sealants to the rest of the baby teeth. Sealants are plastic resins that can be applied to teeth; they act as barriers to plaque.

Reach out to a pediatric dentist for more information.