This question was posted by one of our readers, Jess:
I have a question about dentistry. My son is almost six years old and was recently taken to the dentist. He has ten cavities. 7 of which you can hardly see, like tiny brown ‘pin’ dots. One is a hole and hurts him. The dentist wants to get them all filled even though the ones in front would fall out soon.. I want to tell the dentist to only fill in the bigger cavities and wait a while for the tiny pin hole ones. Is that okay to do? What are the dangers of keeping a tiny cavity like that, especially the ones closer to the front which he will lose soon? Also, can I tell his dentist which ones I want filled? Or will the dentist only fill all or nothing?? Thank you so much for your answer in advance.
For the most part, teeth should be fixed as soon as possible. Cavities have a tendency to grow quickly in children, however baby teeth (sometimes called primary teeth) will most likely fall out. Baby teeth are lost over a 5- or so year time frame. The question for the ones with cavities is: will they be lost first or will they abscess? Your dentist should be able to give you an idea as to which ones are at a higher risk for abscess and help you decide a good time frame to follow for treatment.
This situation begs another question as to why your son has so many cavities. This should be addressed so he does not have a repeat experience with the permanent teeth. I encourage you to work with your son in developing good oral hygiene habits as well as good eating habits to help him enjoy a a healthy mouth for the rest of his life.
I hope this answers the questions.
Dr. Sperbeck, West Los Angeles