Unfortunately, even with the best preventive care and home care routine, cavities and dental decay do sometimes occur. When this happens, it becomes necessary to treat the decay so that it doesn’t cause further damage to the baby tooth or the permanent tooth below. When detected early, most cavities can be treated with a filling.
Why treat a baby tooth? If left untreated, a decayed tooth can become abscessed and painful for our patient. And, while it is true that baby teeth will eventually fall out anyway, these teeth are important for development because they serve as space holders for the permanent teeth which will eventually grow in. If the space is lost, other teeth may shift, preventing permanent teeth from erupting correctly and often leading to a crooked smile.
While fillings work well for small to moderate areas of decay, there are situations where a filling is not the best option. When there is not enough healthy tooth left to support a filling, a crown can save the tooth. Crowns are coverings placed over damaged teeth to strengthen them and allow them to look and function normally again.
A crown will often be used instead of a filling on a tooth that has large areas of decay from a cavity that was not caught early enough. Crowns are also used after baby root canals (pulpotomies) and often after an injury that has cracked the tooth. The crown can help to save the tooth when there is too much damage for a simple filling.