“Look Ma, no cavities” is what every parent wants to hear at the end of a dental appointment, and preventive dentistry is keeping more children free of decay than ever before. But when your child faces a dental problem, you have the right to be fully informed about the treatment choices for your child’s condition.

You have the responsibility to work with your pediatric dentist to make the best treatment decision for your child. Half of all American children under the age of 12 have never had a cavity. That means half of them do. If your child has tooth decay, treatments are available that are far more attractive and comfortable than in the past. A parent can be a wise consumer if you know your options and discuss them with your pediatric dentist.


While it is true that baby teeth do eventually come out, it is also true that they are important to your child in the meantime.

  1. Primary or baby teeth hold space for the permanent teeth to grow in. If one is lost, the others can shift into the empty space and prevent the permanent tooth from erupting. This often means a crooked smile in your child’s future.
  2. In addition, a decayed tooth can become abscessed and cause discomfort.
  3. Finally, “sugar bugs” on your child’s baby tooth can jump onto new permanent teeth and begin the decay process again.  This “mixed dentition” stage is when your child is between 6 and 12 years of age, and has both baby teeth and permanent teeth.

Treatment options for restoring your child’s cavity may include white fillingscrowns, and/or pulpotomies (nerve treatments).  If a tooth needs to be extracted, a space maintainer may be needed.