Baby teeth begin to fall out at around the age of 5 or 6 years old. Within a few weeks, their larger, stronger replacements grow into position. But what happens if a child of 4 or 5 years old develops a cavity in one of these baby teeth? Is it really worth going to all the trouble of having a baby tooth filled when it is going to fall out shortly anyway?

The short answer is yes. Tooth decay, even in teeth that might fall out next month, does more than just cause a single baby tooth to rot. If left untreated, even for a short time, tooth decay in a baby tooth can hamper a child's dental development.

The Decay Could Spread

Baby teeth are only meant to last several years, until a child's jaw is sufficiently developed for the permanent teeth to come in. This means that the enamel layer on baby teeth is thinner than that of permanent teeth. As a result, tooth decay can spread rapidly through a baby tooth.

If the decay reaches the permanent tooth, which is just behind the baby tooth, the consequences could be quite severe. The least that could happen is that the decay could damage the permanent tooth, leaving a brown stain or defect that will be visible when it erupts. In a worst-case scenario, the permanent tooth may stop developing altogether.

You Cannot Predict Tooth Eruption            

As a parent, you have no way of knowing when your child's permanent teeth will erupt. Even two siblings may differ in terms of when their permanent teeth erupt. Some children develop slowly and begin to lose their baby teeth at the age of seven, while others may start early, at the age of five, for example.

Therefore, if you hold back on getting dental treatment for your child's decayed tooth, you could be turning a straightforward situation into a serious one. If your child's permanent tooth stops developing, for example, a dentist will need to extract it along with the decayed baby tooth.

If a child loses a permanent tooth, the surrounding teeth will eventually tilt into the space unoccupied space. Like a stack of dominoes, every other tooth in that row will also tilt, causing the child's teeth to become crooked. Braces will then be necessary to straighten the child's teeth.

Don't leave tooth decay in baby teeth untreated. Have a family dentist fill the tooth as soon as possible.