My six year old daughter has decay on two of her back molars. The dentist is being a bit rude and wants them extracted immediately, but they are baby teeth. Why is that the right choice? Won’t they just come out? Why pay to pull it?
There are a few things going on here. First, I will say I am sorry your daughter’s dentist was rude. I wasn’t there and don’t know your dentist, but is it possible it was more urgency that came across as rude? It is unusual for a children’s dentist to recommend that a back molar be extracted on a child that age. You mention decay. I wonder if that decay had turned into an infection. I know it is a baby tooth and they do come out, however back teeth are different for reasons we’ll go over in a moment.
Bear in mind, I have not examined your daughter, but here are some possibilities and what to do about them.
1. The teeth are deeply decayed and they going to break and lead to infection. If there is enough of the tooth left to save some of it, you could do a pulpotomy and place a dental crown on it. A pulpotomy is simply a child’s version of a root canal treatment.
You mentioned that their teeth come out. So you are likely now wondering why do a pulpotomy when you can just get rid of the tooth? While it is fine for most baby teeth to be removed prematurely, the back molars need to stay in place until she is twelve years old, when her next set of molars typically come in. In a six year span, her other teeth will drift toward the empty space, then when her adult molars finally do come in, there will not be space for them and it will turn into a crowding problem that needs orthodontics to fix. Getting the crown, will preserve that position so the adult teeth can come into the right place.
2. The tooth is already infected beyond what a pulpotomy can help. Tooth infections are considered dental emergencies. This is because the antibiotics cannot “treat” the infection only hold it back temporarily. If a dentist doesn’t get in there and remove the infected pulp, the infection will spread. Think about how close your daughter’s jaw is to her heart, lungs, and brain. Sadly, people still die of tooth infections, even though it is completely treatable.
If her decay and infection have progressed, then even though it is a molar the tooth will have to be extracted. If that happens, make sure to get a space maintainer. This is a device they can place which will keep the space protected so there won’t be crowding.
Because your daughter is likely already in some pain and you don’t want it to be a traumatic situation for her that makes her afraid of dentists for the remainder of her life, I recommend you go to someone who uses dental sedation. This way it will be an anxiety-free/pain-free experience for her.
This blog is brought to you by Lexington, KY Dentist Dr. Weaver.