We’ve delved into the subject of baby (primary) teeth on this blog before - we’ve talked at length about when to expect them and how to take care of them. The story doesn’t end there though! When oral hygiene falls short or other factors come into play (inadequate amounts of fluoride, genetic predisposition, etc.), your child’s primary teeth can develop decay.
It’s an unfortunate misconception that this decay isn’t a big deal. “I don’t need to worry about these baby teeth, they’ll just be replaced!” Right? WRONG! Decay in primary teeth, when left untreated, can have some serious consequences:
- Problems with alignment in adult (permanent) teeth - first and foremost, primary teeth are space savers. They ensure that the adult teeth have the space to erupt properly and in correct alignment with each other. If baby teeth are allowed to decay and are subsequently lost too quickly, others can shift into that empty space, resulting in the impaction and misalignment of the adult teeth underneath. This can mean costly orthodontic treatment to correct that would not have been needed otherwise.
- Infection and pain - untreated decay will continue to worsen, and if it spreads far enough, it can cause an infection in the nerve and lead to an abscess. This is very painful for your child and results in complicated dental treatment to fix!
- Malformed permanent teeth - decay and infection, as described above, don’t know to stop when they’ve gotten through the primary teeth. Unchecked decay can have a direct impact on the developing teeth below, resulting in malformed or stained permanent teeth. It can also spread to any permanent teeth that have already erupted.
Another big concern is what this early decay can indicate. A leading cause of decay is a poor oral healthcare routine at home - if the cause of your child’s cavities is an excessive sugar intake, poor brushing or a lack of flossing, these negative habits can follow them into adulthood and lead to recurring issues with their adult teeth.
If you’re wondering how to help your child take care of their teeth, or worried about existing decay, talk to your dentist today. They’ll have helpful tips and tricks to get your child back on the right path!