Parents understandably have several concerns once they find out that their child has a cavity. One of the most common questions they ask dentists in Chattanooga is whether or not baby teeth actually need fillings in the first place. Many of them tend to wonder whether it would be better to just wait for the damaged tooth to fall out on its own.

There are several factors that a dentist in Chattanooga will consider when it comes to babies and fillings. This includes how close the offending tooth is to falling out already, the cavity’s size, and the child’s cavity risk.

Just how close is the baby’s cavity-ridden tooth to falling out?

In cases where the baby’s tooth is falling out soon anyway, fillings are not needed. That is determined if the baby tooth is loose, or will likely loosen within the next 6 months to a year. The assessment involves an x-ray to see just how much of the baby tooth’s root is present. Oral hygiene needs to improve through brushing and flossing. Regular check-ups with a pediatric dentist are also necessary at this stage.

How big or small is the actual size of the cavity?

Majority of the cavities that dentists see through clinical examinations or X-rays have gotten to the dentin, which is the inside layer of the tooth. Dentin is more porous and softer than enamel, which is the outer white layer. Cavities that end up in the dentin have the possibility of spreading quickly. In these cases, using a white filling is what dentists typically recommend.

In some cases, there’s only a pre-cavity spot in the tooth, which is usually quite tiny. Pre-cavity spots refer to demineralization areas where sugar bugs that cause cavities are only beginning to infect the tooth. There’s hardly any trace of them on the enamel. When things are at this stage, the dentist will monitor the tooth to see if these spots end up growing.

Bigger cavities that are on several surfaces of the tooth may require restoration using a crown. When a cavity is too big for a crown or a filling, then extraction is the next option.

What is the actual cavity risk of your child?

In a nutshell, cavities are essentially infections. Fixing them on baby teeth is recommended if the infection is significant enough. Much like the flu, it can spread quite quickly, going from tooth to tooth. Sugar bugs have a tendency to multiply and thrive in the same environment. When a cavity is left unchecked or untreated, there is a possibility that your baby’s other teeth will get cavities as well. 


Multiple factors come into play for pediatric dentists when they’re trying to decide whether it’s necessary for a baby tooth to get a filling. Mainly, it’s how close the tooth is to falling out, what the cavity risk is for your child, and the actual size of the cavity or cavities in question. Sometimes, instead of a filling, a crown is necessary. No matter the case, improved dental hygiene is always the best.

Need a family dentist in Chattanooga? Visit Shallowford Family Dental today! Our four dentists bring over 75 years of combined dental experience, ensuring our patients get the best dental care possible.

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