How Do Dentists Decide If Baby Teeth Need to Be Pulled?

When a baby tooth extraction is necessary

Is Tooth Extraction Necessary?

Tooth extraction is relatively rare when dealing with baby teeth. There are many preventive and restorative treatments that can help with just about any dental issues your child might experience. However, baby tooth extraction is sometimes needed, and your dentist can ensure that the appropriate treatment option is chosen.

Don’t Hesitate to Bring Your Child to the Dentist.

The first thing you should know about baby tooth extraction is that it can be avoided through early intervention. You shouldn’t hesitate to bring your child to the dentist if they complain of tooth pain or increased sensitivity.

Putting off a visit until later increases the chances that the dental issue will continue to progress. As it becomes worse, your child will become more likely to require extraction for their baby or primary teeth.

When caught early enough, common dental issues can be handled through filling cavities, pulpotomies, dental bonding, or other relatively simple treatment options. Extracting a tooth is generally the last resort and only becomes necessary once serious decay or damage has taken hold.

The Stages of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is one of the most prominent issues that leads to tooth extraction. It has multiple stages of progression, and tooth extraction is generally only required for the most advanced stages.

The first stage is demineralization, where bacteria start to cause enamel to weaken. This stage is fully reversible through the use of fluoride, including fluoride toothpaste and treatment at your dentist’s office. Fluoride remineralizes enamel, restoring its strength.

If not remineralized, the enamel will begin to decay. This leads to the formation of dark spots that eventually give way to cavities. Bacteria continue to thrive and grow in the cavities, extending them deeper.

Eventually, the tooth decay can extend to the next layer of the tooth, the dentin. This soft layer underneath the enamel is even more susceptible to decay once it is exposed. At this stage, your child will have extreme sensitivity.

When tooth decay works through the dentin, it reaches the pulp, which is the soft tissue containing nerves and blood vessels inside the tooth. Bacteria will quickly infect the pulp, causing swelling, pain, inflammation, and more. A root canal or pulpotomy is necessary to resolve the issue at this stage.

If left untreated, the bacteria can cause an abscess within the tooth, causing severe pain and issues in other parts of the mouth. At this stage, tooth extraction is a likely outcome.

Preparing for Orthodontic Treatment

Tooth decay is not the only reason that your child might need a baby tooth extraction. Children often require some form of orthodontic treatment as they develop, whether it’s braces or other interventions. At this stage, children will have a combination of both baby and permanent teeth present, and some of the baby teeth could pose an issue.

Extreme crowding could be a potential issue that would require tooth extraction ahead of orthodontic treatment, as there simply isn’t enough room for teeth to assume the correct positions.

In most cases, tooth extraction is avoided whenever possible. In the case of orthodontics, early baby teeth removal can often lead to complications. If the adult teeth aren’t ready to emerge, removing a baby tooth leaves a gap that other teeth might shift into, leading to further crowding and misalignment problems.

Why Pull a Baby Tooth If It’ll Fall Out Anyway?

Baby teeth eventually fall out on their own to make way for permanent teeth. At first glance, this might make tooth extraction seem unnecessary. However, the reason for tooth extraction is typically urgent, and waiting for the tooth to fall out naturally will simply take too long and cause more issues.

All of your child’s baby teeth will have emerged between the ages of 6 months and 2 to 3 years. They’ll lose those teeth between the ages of 6 and 12. This means that a tooth that must be extracted might not be lost naturally for years to come.

In that time, the decayed or damaged tooth will continue to be highly sensitive and painful for your child. An abscessed tooth can allow infection to spread throughout the mouth and even affect the jawbone. Avoiding these serious consequences means extracting teeth when the treatment is necessary.

The Dental Care Your Child Needs

Tooth extraction can be a very frightening prospect for children. At Must Love Kids, we provide the care and relaxing atmosphere needed to provide the best experience for children no matter what type of treatment they need. You can contact us today to schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist in Vancouver, WA.