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So, I often get this question: do milk teeth or baby teeth get cavities? And do they need any treatment and why do they need to be saved, in any case they will fall?
So, the answer to this question is : Yes, they do need to be saved!
Milk teeth are very important for various reasons like :
1. Their most important job is to hold the space in the jaws for the permanent teeth. If baby teeth are lost too soon or before their time in the mouth, the adjacent teeth can tilt or collapse and close the space, thereby leading to malalignment or crowding in the permanent teeth. This then requires extensive orthodontic treatment or braces.
2. An infected milk tooth that is one with a cavity cannot be left untreated because not only can the caries or decay spread to the underlying tooth structure, it can spread to the developing permanent tooth bud and cause damage to it.
And yes milk teeth are also highly prone to get cavities or suffer from dental decay due to various reasons. The child’s diet is a major contributing factor:
1. Like the prevalence of sugar in the diet because children often take chocolates, sweets, ice creams etc. which contain a lot of sugars.
2. Then in many cases, children do not brush properly if not guided by a parent or any adult.
3. Another common reason for extensive untreated caries which I often see in many kids is sadly also because they have never been taken for a dental checkup until they are in pain or have swelling or a visibly large decay like a black spot, which the parent notices and then finally brings the child to the dentist.
4. Then certain habits can lead to something known as: Baby bottle caries or rampant caries this is a condition in which one sees extensive rapid decay in multiple teeth. This occurs due to prolonged use of a nursing bottle which contains either milk with sugar or a fruit juice.
5. In many cases the child sleeps with the bottle in the mouth sometimes even for the whole night. This results in excessive caries or decay which usually affects all the front teeth.
So, yes! I would finally like to add that yes children often get decay in their milk teeth and it is of utmost importance to treat them. You should not leave them thinking they will anyway fall. They are there for a reason and need equal care as the permanent teeth.
In fact, a child should be taken to the dentist as soon as they get their first tooth for a regular 6 monthly check up and a good regular home care regime should be instilled from an early age, which includes brushing twice a day under adult supervision.