Q: They are just baby teeth. Why fix them? What will happen if I don’t?

A: Children go through two phases of teething; the front teeth may be lost between 6 and 8 years of age, while the twelve primary back teeth (molars and canines) are not lost until about age 10 to 12. An untreated cavity can create an infection and cause your child pain, facial swelling, missed sleep and time out of school. The back teeth are very important and hold the space for the permanent teeth growing underneath them; if cavities are not fixed, teeth may shift, causing lost space, and more extensive treatment will be needed to correct this problem. The molars are also important for proper chewing and they aid in proper speech. Fixing any cavities when they are small will minimize more extensive and expensive repair.

Q: What will happen if I don’t fix my child’s dark tooth?

A: Possibly nothing. However, it may abscess and cause damage to the corresponding permanent tooth if left untreated. This would also cause the primary tooth to be lost before its proper time possibly causing orthodontic problems in the future. We generally recommend that these teeth be treated to avoid potential problems.

Q: Why use a stainless steel crown instead of just a white filling?

A: Primary teeth have very thin enamel compared to the permanent teeth. For this reason, they do not hold big fillings well. “Big fillings” are repairs to large cavities on two or more sides of the tooth on first primary molars, and three or more sides on the second primary molars. Additionally, children who grind their teeth at night break their fillings much more rapidly. Stainless steel crowns hold up much better under these circumstances.

Q: Does my child need nitrous oxide (“laughing gas”)?

A: We have found that nitrous oxide is very effective in relieving a child’s fears about dental treatment. It makes the appointment seem shorter to them and makes it easier for them to hold still. It is very safe and easy for your child.

Q: What are the side effects of nitrous oxide?

A: None, with the exception of occasional nausea if a child has eaten a large meal shortly before their dental visit. For this reason we recommend only a light meal two hours prior to your child’s appointment.

Q: When can my child eat after freezing?

A: Usually one hour is sufficient time for the anesthetic or freezing agent to wear off. Your child may have something to drink, but nothing to eat until the freezing wears off. This is to reduce the possibility of accidental lip, cheek or tongue biting.