You may think it’s not necessary to place a filling in a primary (baby) tooth. After all, it eventually will fall out and be replaced by a permanent tooth. However, primary teeth are important for several reasons:
- Chewing food
- Allowing speech to develop normally
- Maintaining space for the permanent teeth
- Guiding permanent teeth into position
Also, remember that tooth decay is an infection. If a primary tooth is decaying, this infection may also spread to other teeth, including adult teeth that are developing or already in the mouth. Infection can also affect the child’s general health. A primary tooth can be restored with a filling or a crown. Which one is used depends on how much of the tooth is still healthy. Primary teeth are more likely than permanent teeth to need a crown if they have a lot of decay. That’s partly because primary teeth are smaller. They also have thinner layers of enamel (the outer surface) and dentin (the layer beneath enamel). Large fillings in primary teeth tend not to last as long as crowns. Stainless steel crowns are the crowns of choice for primary teeth. A primary tooth with a filling or crown will still fall out when it is time for the permanent tooth to come in.