Fillings For Kids

Dr. Kelly Jobe | Pediatric Dentist | St. Louis, MO

Fillings for kids

If your child has cavities, you’re not alone! Nearly 4 million preschoolers have some form of tooth decay – It’s the most common infectious disease in children; more common than asthma.

Not many people realize that cavities are a bacterial infection, and can spread if it’s not stopped in its tracks. When this bacteria gets exposed to sugar, it creates acid which causes cavities. 

That means sugar is like fuel for cavity-causing bacteria. Since sugar is the food of choice for many children, it’s no wonder they are more likely to get cavities than adults!

When cavities are small and shallow, sometimes they can simply be remineralized with fluoride treatments. Unfortunately most cavities aren’t this shallow, so deeper cavities in baby teeth and permanent teeth are generally treated with a filling. They are the primary way to fix small to moderate size cavities, and prevent tooth decay from spreading. 

If a child’s tooth is severely decayed, dentists might recommend a crown or even removal instead of a filling.

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Do children’s cavities need to be filled?

As a parent, you might be wondering if fillings are a waste of time. Baby teeth are going to fall out anyway, right? 

But there is more to consider. No matter your child’s age, getting cavities filled quickly is vital for their oral health. The only exception is if the tooth is projected to fall out within 4 to 6 months. 

Not only does filling a cavity save a decaying tooth, it also stops tooth decay from spreading and helps permanent teeth form correctly in the future. This is because baby teeth serve as a guide for permanent teeth to erupt in their correct place. When baby teeth fall out prematurely from decay, your child’s permanent teeth can become misaligned. 

It’s also important to remember that baby teeth still help a child chew, as well as speak correctly. 

Children as young as 1 or 2 years old get fillings. So it’s never too early to get a filling if decay is present!

What happens in a dental filling procedure for children?

Dental fillings for kids start with making your child comfortable. We pick out a show or movie to watch, next we will explain and show them what to expect during the procedure. We are great at using language they can understand. If nitrous oxide (laughing gas) is being used, we will then get that started. If additional anesthesia is required, we will administer that as well. We let them know we will ‘splash sleepy juice’. A majority of kids aren’t even aware they got a poke!

Then, the dentist removes the cavity and fills the hole with a tooth-colored composite material. We shine a light to harden the material, make sure it’s smooth for eating and everything is complete – except for prizes and stickers that is! Modern dental fillings are easy to place, incredibly durable and inexpensive.

And don’t worry – Our dentist and staff are experienced in gently guiding your child through the process, calming any frazzled nerves!

How do I prepare my child for a filling?

More than 60 percent of adults are afraid of the dentist. We don’t know what percentage of children are afraid of the dentist, but we wouldn’t be surprised if it was even higher!

But think about it. Would you be less anxious if you knew exactly what to expect, and knew you’d be treated with gentleness and care? 

It’s the same with kids! The more prepared they are, the better they’ll feel about your appointment (and the less they’ll fear dentists later in life).

You may prepare your child for the appointment as much as you feel comfortable. We will fill in any gaps before getting started. Draw on your own positive experiences with the dentist or getting a filling. It probably wasn’t as bad as you thought it would be, right? Telling your child that you were nervous too but it was easier than you thought, is a great way to build their confidence. Seeing you be brave inspires them to do the same. Either way, we are here to guide everyone through a successful, confidence-building appointment. 

Pro tip: Bring your child’s favorite stuffed animal or toy to the appointment. This can help them feel a little less anxious during the procedure.

Also keep in mind that your child will need time to recover after the filling, so build plenty of time into the rest of your day to help them rest properly. Lots of hydration and hugs makes everything better. 

Questions for Dr. Jobe or the Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry team?

Dr. Kelly Jobe and the team at Kids Smiles Pediatric Dentistry are committed to providing the best pediatric dental care in the greater St. Louis, MO area! Please contact us with any questions regarding your kid’s dental health, we are here to help!

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Dr. Kelly Jobe & her staff are  passionate about providing the best pediatric dental care in St. Louis, MO!

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