DD, Cavities, DH, and What to Do

Updated on January 26, 2014
K.B. asks from Detroit, MI
14 answers

Our daughter, 6, just went into the dentist a few weeks ago for a routine check-up and cleaning. X-rays showed what they told me looked like a couple of small cavities on her upper molars - on the sides, where the 1st molar and 2nd molar touch each other, both right and left. They recommended have them filled and said they could do 1 side, then the other, as 2 separate appointments. I made the first appointment for this Wednesday. She's never had cavities before and we've always been good about brushing, avoiding sticky sugary foods and all that, but the hygienist said they were in a spot right between the teeth where a brush can't reach very well. And DD tends to snack and graze a lot, and she said that can predispose them to cavities too, since they are constantly exposing their teeth to food and the sugars inside them.

Problem is, my husband is questioning the whole thing and thinks they are just trying to get us to spend money and that maybe we don't have to do fillings at all (we would be paying out of pocket since we don't have dental insurance). He's insisting that since he can't see a hole in the tooth, she doesn't have a cavity. I told him what they showed me were some dark spots in the enamel that indicated cavities, but they were small and in a location that you wouldn't notice just looking in her mouth. He also thinks the whole idea of filling cavities in baby teeth is not necessary, since she will lose them anyway, but I told him that won't happen for years and I don't want them to get worse to the point where she gets an abscess, needs a crown, etc. He also doesn't see how they could fill cavities that are not on the top surface of the tooth.

DH had had to have some cavities filled when he was a kid, but at the time, the work they did messed up some of his permanent teeth, and as a result, he has a couple of teeth that are broken and he needs to wear caps on them. He seems convinced that they are going to mess up DD's teeth and she's going to end up with more problems and they just want our money. He's accussed me of being "too gullible" because I am just believing what the dentist is telling me. I've tried to tell him that kids get cavities filled all the time and they are fine - I never had any as a kid but my brother did, and he's never had any issues. The dentist is a pediatric specialist (and coincidentally the same practice I went to as a kid) and I've told DH that children's dentistry has come a long way in 40 years, and just because the dentist he went to may have done a crappy job or whatever doesn't mean that is what is going to happen to DD. Of course, I was the one at the dental appointment being shown the x-rays, not him, so he can't seem to believe or trust what has been advised because he has not seen it first hand. I told him we could either take DD for a second opinion (which of course would cost more money), or he could come to the appointment this Wednesday and meet with them in person himself. I realize that not every health (or other) professional is right about everything, but as a health professional myself who does their best not to steer anyone wrong, I do trust this dentist and generally believe what people like them tell me. DH, on the other hand, is going on-line and finding whatever information he can to support his position that she shouldn't have it done.

Has anyone on here had cavities filled in their kids' teeth? Was there ever any talk about alternatives to fillings or any doubts about what was the best course of treatment? Now DH is p.o.ed at me because I am taking the dentist's advice over his and not listening to him. This has been an issue in the past, when I've followed the advice of some professional, like a CPA or financial advisor, instead of doing what HE thinks we should do. I realize that this is not necessarily about cavities, it's about DH and these issues we have. He just always wants to be in charge of everything and "call the shots" instead of taking someone else's advice who probably knows better than him - though he never wants to admit it. TIA.

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So What Happened?

Thank you for the responses so far. DH has been trying to find articles on-line where parents supposedly were able to reverse their kids' tooth decay with special diets, cod liver oil, etc., but I'm not buying it. As a veterinarian, I have to make recommendations all the time to pet owners about what I feel will be best for their pets in the long run, and not everyone wants to take my advice, or they think I am trying to "upsell" them when I talk about dental cleanings or heartworm/flea/tick prevention. So it's pretty frustrating when this is how my DH acts with other health professionals. This is about our daughter and what is best for her, not about him and what happened when he was a kid, or about me not heeding his advice.

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answers from Detroit on

my son had a cavity in a baby tooth.. the dentist saw it.. I had it filled.. I could not see the cavity.. I believe the dentist. I am not an expert on dentistry.. so I have to trust the dentist...

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answers from San Diego on

Due to genetic issues and teeth coming defective from the get go we know all too well about getting dental work done.
If she has cavities, get them filled before they become serious problems.
Some of those molars are there until 12, 13 even 14 years old. That's a long time to not take care of them! They are not "just baby teeth". They need to be there to help the adult teeth grow in where they belong. The need to stay healthy in order for the adult teeth to stay healthy. They need to be there for the jaw to form correctly. You can end up with speech problems, lots of work needed later by way of braces. You can cause permanent damage to the adult teeth that are still forming. It's not worth ignoring!

You do not want what happened to my son to happen to your child. I promise you! It wasn't our fault, I need to say this up front, we were taking him in but they were misdiagnosing and there were some issues. My son was complaining that his ear hurt. We took him to the doctor. He had impacted ear wax and the beginnings of an ear infection but not enough that required antibiotics. He said the pain went away so we thought it was that. There was some darkening on a tooth on that same side that she said looked like it could be a cavity. We contacted our insurance to see who was covered. Had to take him to the "primary" dentist first that will not work on children. Got the referral from him to see the "specialist" i.e. the pediatric dentist. Get first available apt. Take them to said dentist. Yup, he has a cavity that is now at the point where it's becoming infected. They prescribe antibiotics and give me a run around about I have to make the apt with the anesthesiologist, they won't do it for me, then I call back to make the apt with them and a mess of other issues. They also weren't going to try to save the tooth, just pull it which wasn't our preference. There's some more to the story but let's just say a formal complaint against the office was filed. Friday. In the mean time the tooth gets worse, so much so that he wakes up on Saturday morning with the side of his face swollen, running a temp, in spite of being on antibiotics. At this point it was a good 2-3 weeks of messing with being given the run around and no one being willing to just fix his tooth. We go to a dentist office recommended by our pediatrician on that Saturday where they finally take care of his tooth. We would have had to pay for the whole thing out of pocket were it not for the formal complaint filed against the only ped dentist the insurance would cover. They thankfully made the exception and covered it. The dentist we went to was able to completely save the tooth and put a crown on it. He just recently lost that tooth, he's almost 13 now. He was only 3 when all of this happened. 10 years before that tooth naturally fell out. That's a long time to have gone without that tooth had we let the other dentist just pull it (along with a couple others that had cavities that he didn't want to fix either that the other dentist was able to just put fillings in, not even a crown).
Get the fillings. They are needed. Tell your husband he is wrong.

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answers from Dallas on

Wow. You must be exhausted trying to justify every professional opinion.
My H wants to have everything in his mind worked out on how tradesmen are going to fix something before I just call somebody. I tell him, that's why we are paying someone ELSE to fix it! I get exhausted, too.

Medical stuff also mystifies a lot of otherwise smart, guys I know. They just can't figure out that one body can be so different from another in reactions and treatments and ailments. They want to treat everything the same, like taking one part off of one person and it ought fit everybody else the same. Crazy, but in my experience, male.

Let the dentist talk to him. You were right to have him come with you. I bet when he faces the doc, he will easily relent. Let's hope so for your daughter's sake.

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answers from Austin on

Well we trust our dentist. If I did not trust a health professional, I would look for another one.

Maybe your husband needs to take your child for a second opinion. Is he willing to pay for that?

My husband also HATES Dentist. He had braces and he also has a low threshold for pain so the 2 do not mix.. I have tried to tell him that dentistry this century is way better than last century, but he will not budge. Some Men!

My niece had a mouthful of cavities as a young child..
And yes, they had them filled. She did great, my sister was a mess.

From then on they made sure to get the sealant on her teeth.
Our dental insurance now covers this for children.

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answers from Washington DC on

Google for "cavities in baby teeth". They are a foundation for adult teeth. In this case, I would tel him to shove it. My DD had 6 filled when she was 4. Poor enamel. They were between her teeth where they touched. Did not know til she had xrays. I would tell him to put on his big boy pants and stop hindering your child's health concern. He has to trust you and the professionals you (and he) consult for your child's welfare - and if he can't, then that's a whole different problem than teeth. And for that, well, if he wants to be in charge, put him in charge of finding a counselor.

ETA: I would seriously get to the bottom of his need to control - to the point where now he wants to turn the child into an experiment vs just admitting he doesn't know it all. I would tell my DH (if he were this stubborn) that he was welcome to put oils on his own teeth but that I was not going to subject my child to additional pains and problems because he thought correcting it wasn't worth it. Nobody messes with my kid's healthcare.

And does anybody but me find it ironic that he puts more trust in a story online by a non-professional than he does the educated dentist? So what's really the deal here? Is this just going back to his own childhood and not really about your kid at all? Please just take her to get it done. He's being selfish and stupid. I'd be so angry. Where's his dental degree?

What he's saying is "I don't trust the dentist. And, further, I don't trust you." And that's a big deal. A very big one, to not be trusted by your partner.

Oh, by the way, my MIL never got proper dental care when she was a kid. She's had a full set of dentures since she was about 20. What happened to your DH was unfortunate, but at least it wasn't that bad and at least it was fixable.

And if he wants online articles? How about this one. Warning, it's very sad. Children die from infected teeth. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007...

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answers from San Francisco on

Yes, dentistry has come a long way in 40 years.

Yes, my kids had some cavities in their baby teeth. I had them filled. If you, or your husband, don't trust your dentist, find one you (he) DOES trust, and then do what that dentist recommends.

Not all dentists are shysters, and there are probably good reasons for filling baby teeth. I trusted my kids' dentist, we aren't poor, so I filled them. Yeah, probably my kids would have survived without having their baby teeth filled, but there's something kind of trashy about not maintaining your kids' teeth.

It is HIGHLY unlikely their teeth are going to be ruined by having them filled. I don't understand what happened to your husband, but I'm pretty sure that's rare. Good luck convincing him.

ETA: Just read Katrina's story. There you go. Show it to your husband.

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answers from Austin on

For some reason, my son ended up with a lot of dental problems as a toddler... he ended up having to have a root canal and baby cap put on his first molars!

I totally trusted this dentist..... he wasn't a pediatric dentist, but he had kids my son's age, and actually, he still is in our Sunday School at church. He is still my dentist, and does anything possible to save teeth.

Anyway, he sailed through the procedures, they used the nitrous oxide on him and he dozed off in the dentist chair during one of the proceedings.

Now, at age 22, he has had very few problems with his teeth, as far as cavities..... for some reason, his baby teeth were prone to cavities, though.

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answers from Washington DC on

your dh is way too old school.
i used to believe as he does. if they're coming out anyway, why go to the trouble and expense of filling them?
but plenty of research has been done and is very clear. pediatric decay can get into the gums and jawbones and cause lifelong problems.
it sucks that he had a bad dentist and his teeth got messed up, but his reaction is like having a bad car when you're young and refusing to drive.
go get your child's teeth taken care of.

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answers from Rochester on

Both of my kids have had fillings. It is necessary to do. The cavities can eat all the way through to permanent teeth. They can also abscess and lead to caps and crowns or even needing the teeth pulled. I have had students who have mouths filled with silver crowns. Abscessed teeth can also lead to secondary infections and other health problems. I also recently read article about the increase in small children needing dental surgery. I would do it.

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answers from Grand Forks on

Both of my sons have had to have cavities filled, despite the fact that they are good at brushing. The cavities were between the teeth, and they are not so good about flossing. I have known a few kids who have had to have baby teeth pulled due to decay. They have to get spacers put in to keep the place for the permanent teeth. These look awful, and I am sure they are much more expensive than fillings. Show your husband some pictures of spacers and ask if he would prefer to pay for those.

4 moms found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

Consider getting a second option at a dental college since they charge very, very little for fillings. If they give you the same answer, your husband can drop the argument that it's just a scam.

My younger daughter had to have several teeth filled for the same reason. We were surprised and a little embarassed at the time. My ex was initially skeptical. Now, we're glad that we did it.

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

If you are seeing your regular dentist that you trust, I would go ahead with the appointments to get the teeth repaired. Also, when her molars start to come in, I strongly advise the sealants.

Our daughter is 19, perfect set of teeth, no cavities, no orthodontics. We also do not carry dental insurance so we pay cash upfront for a discount on services.

Last year, I needed to find a new dentist because ours was moving out of state. I took daughter to a dentist who was recommended. At this appointment, when they called me back to see xrays, etc, my daughter was in tears (18 yrs old) because she and I were told she had 6 cavities that needed immediate attention to the tune of $1500.

They were offended with I questioned this because my daughter has sealants, has not missed a dental appointment every 6 months since she got her first tooth. My gut said something was "off". We left with the treatment plan.

Move forward 3 months, we still had not found a dentist we liked. Daughter developed a toothache. We went to another recommended dentist. He called me back to the exam room because my daughter was so distraught saying she should have gotten the fillings and now her teeth are rotting. He asked me what she was talking about. I told him about the previous dentist and the Dr was shocked. He said per all the xrays he did, there were ZERO cavities in her mouth. The issue was her wisdom teeth.

We proceeded and got her wisdom teeth out right after graduation with no issues. To this day, I do not know what the original dentist was talking about or where she planned to drill on my daughter's teeth.

So... my bottom line, is that a 2nd opinion can't hurt. However, we LOVE our current dentist and trust him. If I were in your situation and my current dentist had the suggestion that your dentist does, I would follow my dentist's recommendation.

Best of luck!

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answers from Toledo on

I was blessed (cursed) with bad genes. I've had many fillings, and I now have 5 caps. Not fun. I do take care of my teeth, but you can't fight genetics. My dad has always had dental issues and recently got his upper teeth pulled and was fitted for dentures. He's 77 years old.

Last summer we were told my oldest had a small cavity. I was very sad to hear the news, but what can you do? If he has a cavity, he has a cavity. You can't turn back the clock. And I have good reason to trust my dentist. Actually, he showed the x-Ray to his partner, and they both thought it was small enough to wait. They explained to me that 6 months was not a long period do time and some cavities grow very slowly, so we decided to wait and see.

Now that I've read Katrina's story, I'm wondering if we should just get this done! That sounds very scary!

I understand the uncertainty you must be feeling, but if you do not otherwise have a reason not to trust you dentist I think you have to trust your dentist. You don't want the cavities to grow and cause more problems.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Philadelphia on

If you don't trust your dentist then by all means get a second opinion.

FYI...I had a dentist tell me my daughter had to have one of her sealants replaced. I forget the reason but she showed me what was wrong. Not being a dentist or having any background in dentistry though, what did I know? I got a second opinion and her new pediatric dentist said there was absolutely nothing wrong with her sealant.

I am very distrustful of dentists.

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