Although baby teeth are only in the mouth for a limited amount of time, they have an important part in a child’s dental health history. They play a crucial role in helping children to speak and chew properly. They also serve as placeholders for the permanent teeth. The first baby teeth start to fall out at around age six, but the last molars won’t do so until 12 or 13. Having a space empty for a long period of time before the permanent tooth is ready to erupt allows the remaining teeth to shift into that gap or rotate, possibly leading to malocclusion.
Baby teeth are more susceptible to tooth decay than permanent teeth because their enamel layer isn’t as thick and because the dental pulp within the tooth is larger and closer to the surface. That means that, if the tooth should be infected by decay, it gets through the tooth enamel and can reach the pulp much more quickly in a baby tooth than a permanent tooth. This is why it is so important to treat a cavity as quickly as possible with a filling after it is first detected.
Cavities form when sugars remain on the tooth surfaces for a long time, allowing the bacteria that live on teeth to feast on them, eating away at tooth enamel. When this happens, the cavity must be treated with a dental filling in order to maintain the health of the tooth. The decay is removed, and the tooth is then prepared to receive the filling. After the filling has been placed, it may be hardened with a bright light (depending on the type of filling material used), then shaped and polished.
If the decay of a tooth is too severe for a filling to be effective, the tooth can be restored with a stainless steel crown. The decay must first be removed. A prefabricated crown is then fitted and cemented onto the affected tooth. These crowns are durable yet inexpensive and provide full coverage for the tooth with very little sensitivity as a side effect. They lower the chances of needing further treatment in the future and serve well as an attachment for a space maintainer.