Fillings for Cavities in Baby Teeth? — The Bump
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Fillings for Cavities in Baby Teeth?

So my 5 year old son went for his twice a year checkup at the dentist the other day, and they did x-rays for the first time. To my great horror, they showed 3 cavities. One was worse than the others. Obviously, I feel like a horrible, horrible mother. I thought we were doing a good job with brushing and flossing, but I guess not. :( I've really tried to limit juice and sweet drinks and whatnot as well. Oh well. At least I know that what we're doing isn't working and we have to change things up a bit.

Anyway my question is, has your child had fillings? We love our pediatric dentist and she's been great so far. She says she tends to do fillings for little kids with nitrous oxide only because the novacaine injections and numbness freak them out and upset them, and that many kids can get by with just the gas. Obviously I'm pretty nervous about this approach. She says she'll use his reaction as a gauge, and give him novacaine if he needs it. I worry that by then he'll already be in pain. :(

Yesterday we went for his well-child visit and the pediatrician was NOT in favor of this plan. She thought it was unnecessary to fill baby teeth when they're going to fall out anyway. And that doing a procedure without pain meds was cruel... "Would you undergo a dental procedure without novacaine?" She's afraid it will lead to dental phobia.

I've been researching online and there's a lot of stuff that says you SHOULD fill these teeth, but a lot of the sources are from the Pediatric Dental Association and other parties that may have a bit of bias.

BTW, these aren't back back molars... these are the first molars on the bottom that are next to the four front teeth.

Would love to hear anyone's input!
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Re: Fillings for Cavities in Baby Teeth?

  • I agree with your pediatrician. Your dentist sounds crazy. I'd get a second opinion from a regular (non-pediatric) dentist.
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  • Additionally, I take my daughter to see my dentist. I think regular dentists are so much more relaxed than pediatric dentists. She had her first real cleaning at 4 (shocking right?). By delaying it, she was so much more prepared and well behaved.
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  • My 5 yr old has had two fillings and his dentist does them in 5 mins flat. No gas and no pain meds. he has left the office smiling every time!

    My oldest has more serious dental issues and he would not use meds with him either.
    Boy 1 2/06 - Boy 2 12/07 - Boy 3 9/09
  • I would get a second opinion from your regular dentist, if he/she sees children, or a general family dentist.  Other than that, here's what I know about this issue from seeing my kids through this phase:

    --baby teeth are much more prone to cavities than permanent teeth.  A child can have cavities even with good dental hygiene.

    --it might make sense not to fill a cavity in one of the front teeth of a 5 year old, since that child is likely to start losing those teeth in the next year or two.  But the molars don't really fall out until many years later.  For instance, my son began losing his first row of molars around age 9.  My daughter was in middle school!  4 to 6 years is a long time to just let a cavity grow and do nothing.
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  • I would get a second option. My son was three when he had a cavity. We ended up having to get a cap because the first dentist almost cracked his tooth cleaning out the cavity poor guy. It is not unusual for small children to be put out during procedures, they are not going to sit still enough to get through the whole procedure. The second dentist said he probably would have just watched and waited to see if the cavity grew. Lessons learned. But if you do have to get the cavity filled after the second option, you most light will have to get him put under some way.
  • @neverblushed - that's what our dentist said exactly. Also, I was diligent about brushing and flossing and my son got 6!!!!!!! Cavities anyway. Dentist filled the 5 molars but let the front one go because it will fall out soon.
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  • I was coming here to ask about this very topic. My 3 year old suffers from decalcification on approximately 6 teeth. We are scheduled to get them filled on Oct. 12. Our pediatric dentist suggested we have them done all at once under general anesthesia at a hospital and also recommended that two molars be crowned even though the areas of concern aren't yet true cavities.

    Thinking that this sounded completely bonkers, I sought a second opinion from my dentist. He agreed that it was crazy and said that he could do it in an hour if DS would be still for 2 minutes per tooth. He said he doesn't automatically numb the area because 75% of children don't complain of pain. He said he would only have to scuff the area with the drill to fill most of the decalcified areas. He only administers local if the kids complain of pain. Otherwise he uses nitrous oxide if they have difficulty remaining still. Apparently it's relatively common not to use anesthesia on very young children because they don't know enough to be apprehensive.
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  • DS is 6 and just got his first cavities. The pediatric dentist said he needed 1 filling and 1 crown and suggested sealants on 2 teeth. They were all molars. Truthfully we had been lacking on brushing. He complained that his tooth hurt when brushing so I think they should be filled so they don't hurt him. They asked me if I wanted it done at the hospital or in the office. This shocked me but after talking to my friends, they said some people prefer anesthesia at the hospital if they need a lot of work done, then they could do it all at once. I opted for in office and she used gas as well as novicane. The good thing was, while wearing the gas mask, it blocked his view so the dr could hide the needles and he didn't freak out. He felt the shot and cried a bit but the only other things he complained about was the smell of teeth dust when she drilled and he didn't like his face being numb afterwards. It went well. He went right back to school afterwards.
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  • Cavities in baby teeth can affect the adult teeth underneath. I'd get a second opinion to see if another dentist agrees it's necessary, or if the position of the cavity won't be an issue for the adult tooth.
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  • Nothing wrong with getting a 2nd opinion if you're not sure about their recommendation. Unaddressed cavities in baby teeth can affect permanent teeth in that spot later. My oldest had a cavity at his 3 year apt. I too was horrified & felt like a bad mom bc at that point I was usually the one brushing his teeth & thought I was doing a good job. I started talking to my friends and learned that cavities in baby teeth were extremely common. Several of their kids had experienced multiple cavities & some even needed extensive dental work.

    We had the cavity filled. It was a small one so it took only a few minutes with no gas or anything and my son did just fine. After doing some research I opted to have sealants put on his teeth afterwards (at our expense bc baby sealants aren't covered by insurance). My 2nd son also had a cavity filled at 3 years old. It was a deeper cavity so she suggested using gas. I didn't like the idea but she felt like it would make the situation less stressful for him so I agreed. He did fine and I do think the gas was a good call. I opted to do sealants on him as well. I want to say it was about $180 for the sealants on each kid. With insurance I paid around $75 to fill a cavity so in my mind the sealants are worth the money...not only to avoid paying for the cavity filling but most importantly so my kids don't have to go through it.

    My youngest is almost 2 & I plan to do sealants for him as well. My oldest didn't end up losing his first tooth until he was 7 years old so if a cavity at 3 had been left unaddressed that's 4 years for it to get worse, potentially causing him pain & doing permanent damage. In those 4 years post sealants he's had no cavities. I do have them brush every day (ideally twice) but I mostly trust them to do a good job (I watch them but don't usually assist the older two) & we rarely floss. I need to do better on that. :-/

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  • tlc11934tlc11934
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    edited April 2016
    DD had one cavity because one of her molars has 5 points instead of 4.  Everything sits in the middle of the tooth, no matter how well she brushes. The dr said it was inevitable.  He used a topical numbing agent and she did just fine!
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