Hi. I’m Dr. Heather Pranzarone Stratton at HPS Advanced Dental Care. We’re located in Macomb County, Michigan. I wanted to talk about a lot of questions we get from some of our parents about their children, in honor of Children’s National Dental Health Month, which is in February. They ask a lot, if my child has a cavity, do I have to fill it? That’s a great question, because we get this question all the time. I would always say yes. If they’re a younger child, the answer is usually yes. And so their parents say, well, why would we want to keep a tooth that had a cavity in it? Get a filling in it when they’re just going to lose it anyways? Another great question.

So let me answer both of these questions, kind of at the same time. When a child comes in, and they have a cavity in their tooth, especially if they’re a younger child we know most of the teeth can start losing around the age of 5 or 6.  Give or take a little bit of time. Boys usually lose them a little bit later than girls. But usually around 5 or 6, we start using, losing the front teeth. Typically, we’re going to see cavities in the back teeth more than we do in the front teeth, and when we see a cavity in the back tooth, it’s often times around that 5 or 6 year old mark. They’re not going to lose those teeth until they’re probably 9, 10, 11 years old depending on which tooth it is. So, we have a choice to make. We can either take the tooth out, which is what some parents ask about well should we just take the tooth out? We can do that. We can take the tooth out, in that case though we’re going to have to do something to maintain the space. Because one of the biggest jobs of baby teeth, besides chewing and talking and smiling, is that they maintain the space for permanent teeth to come in. If we take out a tooth prematurely, what’s going to happen is that new permanent tooth that’s now below it is going to be delayed in coming into their mouth.

Saying that, what’s also going to happen is the teeth around it are going to start shifting. So what’s going to happen around the time 9, 10, 11,  is that you are now going to be forced to go into an orthodontic situation to move all those teeth back into position, so that tooth can come out. If not, we get what we call an impacted tooth, which means the tooth is kind of stuck below the gum line and it can’t come out because there’s no place for it to come out to. So that’s one of the big reasons we want to keep those baby teeth. Now, we can make space maintainers for teeth that have such a big cavity, we can’t keep them. And they’re little pieces of wire, basically. Not quite like braces, but something a little bit similar to it. But that goes on the inside of your teeth. They kind of hold that space in place. It’s an option. So, we can always do that if the tooth is in really bad shape. So, we have different types of fillings that we can do here in the office. One of them is a typical composite filling. If you’ve watched some of my other videos you probably have seen that I don’t place amalgam or mercury fillings in this office. So that’s not an option for us here, but we will place a composite filling. The other thing is if the cavity’s really small. It’s not quite a filling material, and it’s not quite a sealant material, because people ask us about sealants a lot too. But, basically all it does is we don’t have to drill on the teeth at all. We just place this material in between the teeth, and we let it sit there. The kids are always watching TV. back in their rooms or something like that, bored. But we place it there for 2 minutes, we reapply, for like another couple of minutes. And then, it usually will remineralize the enamel and the dentin, without having to put a filling in the tooth.

A lot of we hear people talk, why don’t we do that for all the fillings? Well we can only do it for certain fillings. If they’re small, s