I’m really frustrated. We took our 6-year-old to the dentist because the pediatrician said it was important for his overall health. We did it because, truthfully, we were just afraid there was some kind of list pediatricians put you on if your children didn’t go to the dentist and turned it into some government agency. So, off we toddle to a pediatric dentist. He tells us our son needs 2 teeth removed, 2 space maintainers, and three more cavities which “need” to be filled. This is going to cost a fortune. Why in the world would a 6-year-old need this type of work? Their teeth fall out anyway. Help me get this.
Parent who won’t give their name because I’m still worried about that list.
Dear Anonymous Parent,
First, I’ll assure you we don’t keep secret lists here to turn into the government. Our job as dentists is to advise you the best we can to keep your teeth as well as your child’s teeth healthy.
While it is true that baby teeth fall out, there are some circumstances in which if the work isn’t done will put your child at risk of serious health repercussions. A good pediatric dentist would have made sure you understood why he or she reccomended these treatments.
Why Work on Baby Teeth
Let’s talk about the extractions and space maintainers first.
I’m going on the assumption that the teeth which need to be extracted are back teeth. While many teeth start falling out about your child’s age, their back teeth have to remain until they are around twelve years old. If they are lost before then it’s important a space maintainer is placed. Otherwise, the other teeth will shift. Then, when his twelve-year-old molars do come in, it will cause crowding causing him to need braces that would otherwise be unnecessary.
As for the fillings. While, again, you are right that the teeth will fall out, whether or not they need to be filled depends on the depth of the cavity. If it gets to the pulp of the tooth, an infection will develop. This is considered a dental emergency. Even today, people die from tooth infections. You don’t want to put your son’s health (and possibly life) at risk.
Your son seems to have quite a bit of decay for someone his age. Has your pediatric dentist mentioned anything about him having thin enamel? Sometimes this amount of decay is simply because you lost the gene lottery when it comes to teeth. More often, though, it’s because your son is not taking care of his teeth properly or drinking a lot of sugary treats and drinks.
Double check how he’s brushing and flossing. You may have to help him for a bit to get his habit back on track. Also, make sure he’s drinking more water than sugar.
This blog is brought to you by Huntsville Dentist Dr. Steve Murphree.