Decay is an infection of the teeth, so when one tooth decays the infection spreads to other teeth and they decay as well. Decay infection also spreads from parents to their children. For a healthy mouth, first, the teeth must be restored. This gets rid of the infection and eliminates the decay. Second, the infection must be prevented from starting again. Permanent teeth are more likely to stay healthy if the primary teeth are healthy first. No matter how badly your child’s decay is now, with good home care and regular preventive visits, you can expect the teeth to stay healthy. His permanent teeth will be healthy, and your child will enjoy a bright, healthy smile.
DECAYED PRIMARY INCISORS
These teeth are normally lost at 6 to 7 years. The alternatives are restoration, arresting the decay or removal.
Restoring the incisors is a sure way to preserve full oral function and an esthetic appearance. Tooth colored resin fillings, zirconium crowns, or stainless steel crowns with tooth colored facings restore decayed or fractured incisors very well. They are not quite as strong as natural teeth, so care is needed when chewing hard foods. Stain may appear over time, but thorough daily cleaning prevents this problem. We use the most recent generation of visible light cure bonded hybrid resin system which lasts and looks nice as long as possible.
Arresting decay may allow you to slow the decay until the teeth are lost naturally or until your child is older and easier to treat. This requires ruthless home care plus frequent office topical fluoride gel. The risk is the decay can get worse resulting in pain and infection, which requires removal instead of restoration.
Decayed primary incisors may abscess and injure the permanent incisors. Removal is necessary if they are badly decayed or abscessed. Early loss of primary incisors, in our experience, causes few problems for children. We would expect your child to be able to learn to eat, talk, and accept their appearance. Eruption of the permanent incisors can be delayed when primary incisors are removed early.
DECAYED MOLARS AND CANINES
Primary molars and canines are lost naturally at 9 to 12 years of age. When they are lost early or decay, space for the permanent teeth is lost. Then, the permanent teeth may not have enough room to come in well. Treatment alternatives include restoration or removal and space maintenance.
Resin restorations (tooth colored fillings) are effective for most decayed molars. We use the newest generation material, which studies show endure longer than previous formulas. We bond the resin to the tooth enamel and dentin surfaces to promote the best seal and to strengthen the tooth.
Stainless Steel Crowns are the only effective restoration for badly decayed primary teeth, because you can depend on them to last until the teeth are lost naturally.
Teeth with very deep decay or abscesses must either be removed or treated in order to prevent further damage. The dental pulp is the nerves and blood vessels inside the root of the tooth. There are two types of pulp therapy:
1) Pulpotomy. When the decay goes into the pulp, the infected part is removed and the healthy part is medicated.
2) Pulpectomy. When the tooth has abscessed, the whole pulp is infected and must be cleaned out and filled in with medication. During treatment the tooth is numb so there is no discomfort.
Remember, decay will only get worse and spread to more teeth if it is not taken care of. Now is the easiest time to treat your child’s unhealthy mouth and equip him with a healthy comfortable smile.
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