Theriot Family Dental

Space Maintainer Needed

Posted by writeradmin

My six year old daughter have two molars that have severe decay, which has broken them. My dentist is recommending that we extract them. I thought kids needed their molars for a long time, like until they are almost teenagers. Is this the right procedure for her? Should we do a root canal treatment instead?


Dear Amanda,

Young girl in a pediatric dental chair

A root canal treatment will work for an infected adult tooth, but not for baby teeth in this situation. You really do need to have these tooth extracted. The infection will spread. You do not want it to get into the bone or spread to her brain or throat, which can close off her breathing. Don’t put this off. It should be considered a dental emergency when there is an infected tooth. I know you are probably dreading this appointment.

If you are concerned, you tell your dentist you want to use dental sedation. This will allow her to sleep through the appointment, giving her a completely pain-free/anxiety-free appointment. An additional benefit to this is she will not be as likely to develop dental anxiety as a result of a traumatic appointment.

One thing to be aware of is that she will need a space maintainer. You didn’t say anything about her pediatric dentist mentioning that so I wanted to ensure you knew about it because it will be important. You are correct that these back teeth will need to remain in place until she is around twelve years of age. If that is not possible, a space maintainer holds the space open so that her other teeth will not drift or tip into it leading to crowding when her adult molars come in.

One last thing. You seem like a responsible mother who is doing everything she can to take care of your daughter’s oral health. If she is still getting serious cavities like this even though you are having her brush twice a day and floss, then the likely culprit is snacking.

One of our body’s biggest defenses against decay is our saliva. It contains bacteria fighting minerals. However, it needs time to work. If someone is constantly snacking then there is no time for it to do its job. I would limit her snacking and make sure she is drinking water most of the time instead of juices.

I hope this helps.
This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. John Theriot.