Filling Cavities in Baby Teeth?

Updated on November 19, 2011
T.S. asks from Burbank, CA
20 answers

According to our pediatric dentist, my five year old daughter has two cavities. One on the bottom left and one on the bottom right between the only teeth that are close together - the rest have great gaps between them. She is in absolutely no pain and we're told the cavities are small. My daughter will have nitrous oxide to calm her and then she'll have to deal with Novocaine and her having her baby teeth drilled and filled with the metal fillings (apparently the white ones aren't covered under our insurance and aren't as strong as the metal ones). She'll have to go to two separate appointments to get this done.

My question is this. Is all of this really truly necessary if she's probably going to lose these teeth in the next year or so? There's a part of me that's a bit cynical and thinks this is all a great way for a pediatric dentist to make money. If, however, it's necessary for the health of my daughter's permanent teeth to fill these cavities right away then I need to know. I just don't want to put a 5 year old through that experience unless it's truly necessary.

I would love to hear your thoughts and advice on this.

Thank you!

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answers from Minneapolis on

NO dont have them filled that is a waste of money, you have a choice and a voice, I know they can cap them with something i forgot the name, however they dont need to be filled. My niece had some cavities, and they just capped them with a sealant, because she was about to lose them anyway. Its ridiculous they are telling you to fill them.

Root canal for a bad baby tooth is completely different and the health of the gum is at risk then you need to do that, but just a few small cavities can just be left unless she is in pain.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Minneapolis on

Well all of my molars are baby teeth still and I am 27yrs old...My 6 yr old had one cavity at 5 and she begged me to go back afterwards. I don't think iti s a big deal at all to have it done. They don't feel anything otherwise my daughter would have never been willing to go back

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answers from Houston on

Its necessary.........cavities WILL start to hurt her, or can get infected and whats worse can damage her adult teeth underneath. I would go ahead and get the silver since you indicated that she will lose them in about a year anyway.

My daughter got caps on her front teeth (something wrong with the enamel when they grew in) I payed extra for the white.........yes they are weaker but my daughter has years to go before she will lose them and i couldnt bear to have people look at her and judge.

It was worth extra just have to keep them away from food that can create a suction like tootsie rolls and airheads and taffy (we dont have that stuff around anyway)

********id also like to add that just because a kid gets a cavity does not mean the mom feeds her nothing but sweets and junk. My daughter never saw junk food in her life when we noticed the cavities....and she didnt bottle feed AT ALL. I dont know what causes it, maybe its our water supply, maybe something else. All i know is that we did everything possible to prevent it and it still happened.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I am a little confused, but if molars, she'll have them until almost 12. And you are assuming she'll lose her teeth on schedule - my 8 yo is about 2 years behind, per his dentist, so he has only lost his front two bottom teeth - that is it.
She could have these teeth for longer than you know. There is also the issue of what will happen if left un attended - will the entire tooth decay? How will that make her feel about her appearance - I know that is a shallow thing to say, but if adults with teeth issues are self consious, think about a child. . . not to mention the numerous studies that link tooth and gum health to overall health.
I guess my advice is if your insurance covers it - i'd do it for the long-term health and well being of your child.
Good luck with your decision.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from New York on

I agree that a second opinion with a family dentist would be advisable, but I'll tell you my recent story for comparison.

I had a similar experience recently to the poster whose dentist took a wait and see approach. Also a family dentist (actually a gum specialist, but also family dentistry). I think family dentists tend to be more conservative in their approach than pediatric dentists. I choose not to speculate why.

My daughter (now 3) started to have her first cavity before she was 2. Still don't know the reason BTW. The dentist was unwilling to fill them when she was so young, and chose to wait and watch until it was absolutely necessary, and she was more prepared to deal with the process. We brushed with a stronger flouride toothpaste and went to the dentist every 3-6 months to have them professionally cleaned and checked.

At the last appontment he said that her teeth were "sticky" and needed to be filled. We had 4 teeth filled with no nitrous, no novocaine, and no trauma. He used a slightly less permanent filling with the idea that if it ended up falling out we could refill it later, but that he didn't want to traumatize her, or use any sort of anesthetic. I know people are very cavalier about using nitrous or other anesthetic to put their kids to sleep for dental procedures, but I consider it very dangerous. We had an older son who had a reaction when he was getting his wisdom teeth out. And Novocaine can hurt more than having the tooth filled if it is a small cavity!

Anyway, I was very happy about the way it worked out. Before I went into a more involved procedure, I'd get a second opinion.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Washington DC on

My son has had a few done and our dentist tells us it is necessary because they need to stay healthy to promote healthy adult teeth. Not fun for anyone involved though.

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answers from Atlanta on

Is it truly necessary? NO!
Plus if you get metal put in it could cause all kinds of aliments, aliments that disguise themselves as something else. I wouldn't do it.
Why does she have cavities at such a young age? Does she need to change her diet? I have adult children and so far only one has had a cavity. I didn't give them much sugar when they were kids and most of the sugar they did get was from baked goods, no candy, lots of raw fruits and veggies. I know some are more prone to cavities.
And you're right the dentist is trying to work up some cash. I know I may sound cynical, and I'm certainly not saying to not go to the dentist, but I've seen a lot of riduculous stuff.
My 3 year old grandson had an accident and fell on to the table and hurt his front teeth badly, his teeth were barely hanging in there. His mom took him to the dentist and he told her they'd have to be removed. She was shocked and said, no, let me think on it. I told her just push them back in and hold them and don't let him eat any hard foods till they're healed (my dad did the same once with my brother) and give him lots of vit. C. His teeth "took" and healed fine and they look completely normal. This is just one of several stories I've seen or heard.
This is my two cents or so -- Good Luck with her.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

I have a dentist friend and this is what he told me. If they are small you can watch them, but if they get a little bigger in a few months or start to hurt you need to get them filled or it will cause more damage to gums and nerves that remain. The longer you wait and the bigger they get the more expensive it is to treat them.

Don't assume she will lose them on time though, there are a lot of kids who do not lose them on schedule.

If they are truly small I would wait to see how they are at her next check up, and then if still there and not ready to fall out and are bigger I would have them filled. I have waited myself when I needed to for financial reasons and had no harm done, so my suggestion is to wait and see.

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answers from Tampa on

Girl I feel your pain! My son went for his first appointment the other day and he has to go back for a root canal!!! He had a tooth that came in brown, I never thought a tooth could come in with a cavity ...but yep it was and now he has to have a root canal. We have no insurance and its going to cost us over $500. I have been told by a few dental hygentist friends that it is nessasary to save baby teeth they need to save space for adult teeth. I say do it, so it dosn't end up like my poor 4 year old having to go thru this. I am a CRAZY nervous wreck, and just feel sick about it. Good luck.



answers from Los Angeles on

Of course, only if you want your baby girl's perm teeth to come in with cavities. That is exactly what will happen. I know some dentist have those crazy under intentions, but this is about your daughter and you dont want her teeth to rot out and eventually she will need a root canal. Just imagine the cost and pain you'll send her through if you dont take care of this right away!

Good Luck!
Take Care of it it's worth it!



answers from Washington DC on

I don't think the dentist is fleecing you. My DD has poor enamel and has a small filling (not metal) on a front tooth. Your child will have her baby teeth for years and their health and placement affects her permanent teeth.

Right now, it's a small thing. Later it can be a big thing. If you wait til she's in pain, you're waiting for a potential abscess, or even a systemic infection. Google for "death toothache" and you will find stories, including that of a 12 yr old boy, who died from infections caused by untreated dental issues. That's an extreme case, but it happens. I know someone whose son had to be put under major anesthesia and have caps and other serious repairs done on his teeth because it wasn't caught or treated earlier. That's what cleanings and routine visits are for - to catch things when they are small and fixable.

I do not regret getting my DD's tooth repaired (it was so small they didn't need to drill at all) and I had my teeth fixed when I was a kid, too.

You may have to take additional steps to prevent more cavities, but I would fix the ones she has.

You can also request that the dentist use the other fillings and you pay out of pocket.

Teeth that touch need to be flossed as those are areas that are hard to reach and common for cavities. If she doesn't yet floss, teach her how and/or follow up. Til children are 6 or sometimes older, they need parents to check up on or brush and floss their teeth to ensure good habits.

Instill the habits now. My stepson is terrific and has had zero cavities his whole life. His sister is a sugar junkie with meh habits and last year it was about $2k to fix the cavities she had. We were not pleased.


answers from Los Angeles on

I took our 3.5 year old to my dentist and the hygienist found the start of a very small cavity. She advised using Act to strengthen the enamel and keeping an eye on it.


answers from Chicago on

So.... do you want to wait until they are causing her pain, and are permanently damaging her adult teeth?

If you really don't see the need, then visit with another dentist for a second opinion. We moms on here can't see your child's teeth and we're not dentists (well most of us aren't anyway). We just have our opinions. Some think you're being scammed and others think you're not. So obviously you aren't getting unbiased answers. The only way to truly tell is with a second professional opinion.

My dentist is also a good friend of mine and she recommends baby teeth be filled or capped because they can become worse and painful, and they can also cause permanent damage to the adult teeth below.

Your child has to keep her teeth for her entire life. Make sure you and she are properly taking care of them.



answers from Nashville on

You received varying responses. My 5 year old has had a small cavity on his front tooth since he was 2. We have watched it for 3 years, starting using flouride toothpaste after it was discovered, brush twice a day, and give him flouride treatments at the dentist twice a year. It doesn't bother him and the dentist told me it would not affect his permanent teeth and that it was his recommendation to watch it and see unless it started to bother him. It has not become bigger in 3 years. My dentist also told me the conventional wisdom is not to take the watch and see approach which is probably why you are getting many opinions to fill the cavities both from other moms and your dentist. I would seek a second opinion but maybe not from a pediatric dentist -- we take our kids to our family dentist. The advice certainly will depend on how bad the cavity is and where it is. Our same dentist recommended filling a cavity in my 7 year old nephew's baby tooth because it was pretty bad and he recommended not filling a small cavity in my 9 year old niece's baby tooth because it was very small and she was likely to lose that tooth very soon.



answers from Oklahoma City on

I would go to a different dentist for a second opinion. I would call around at the very least to make sure this is what other dentists were charging and doing. Our pediatric dentist uses white all the time and the kids are on state medical cards. If there was a cheaper way the state would use it for sure.

Our dentist puts the kids to sleep in out patient surgery at Children's Hospital in OKC. They go in, go to sleep, have the work done, wake up with no issues and then want to go eat or go play. Pain free and easy.

The ONLY reason I would hesitate AT ALL to get them filled is they are small. If they are in danger of becoming larger and then more of an issue I would do it in a heart beat but I would not let the kids be awake for it.

You can also call you insurance provider and find out if they recommend a different pediatric dentist that would use white. Our dentist says he likes using white more because silver only gives other kids a reason to tease someone and why make it easy for them.



answers from Canton on

I had this same issue a couple years ago. My son was 4 at the time and needed a couple fillings and I didn't see the need to have it done because they were baby teeth. Well, last week he started complaining about a tooth ache. I took him back and here he had an abcess. I was also told at this appointment that if I don't have the work done on his teeth that it can travel down in the root and actually affect his adult teeth. He's currently on an antibiotic for the abcess and we will be going back to get the work done.
I was also told like you that our insurance doesn't cover the white fillings. When the dentist asked what type of insurance I had, he told me straight out that if I had a government type insurance it would be covered.


answers from Detroit on

I had mine pulled when I had a cavity in my baby teeth. He gave me just the NO2. I didnt have Novacaine until I was a teen. I HATE Novacaine. Won't have it as an adult. I'd rather feel it.

So no. I would NOT let them do that. But that's just one opinion.



answers from Reno on

My daughter had to have one extraction and 4 fillings. The dentist suggested we not get one of them filled because it looked like she would lose it before it got to a painful state. I would ask your dentist if it looks like she'll lose the two teeth in a relatively short time? Also, we had the white fillings done.. they weren't covered by our insurance, either. However, we didn't know this and now we're responsible for 300 more dollars! Glad you know in advance! :)

Best of luck!




answers from Milwaukee on

Yep-spend the money. A pretty and healthy smile is so worth it.



answers from Austin on

Well, my daughter just turned 4 and had four cavities - all on the very back molars. The dentist said it was important to fill them because those teeth don't fall out until she's 10 or so. The process was amazingly pleasant. The dentist had an incredible bedside manner referring to the drill as a tickle brush, the laughing gas smelled like strawberries, and she got two prizes for doing such a great job. My daughter even wants to go back! So, if it were me, I'd do it, but you might want to get a second opinion from another dentist.

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