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Mumsnetters aren't necessarily qualified to help if your child is unwell. If you have any serious medical concerns, we would urge you to consult your GP.

DS (8) has a tiny cavity. Is it worth trying to save the tooth, or just extract?

(16 Posts)
RubberDuck Mon 22-Jun-09 10:52:34

Dentist is leaving the decision up to us and I just don't feel like we have enough information to base the decision on As far as I can work out:

Save the tooth

PROS: it's a molar that he would normally probably keep for a long while and the hole is small. Will keep the space "safe" for the adult tooth coming through later. Dentist marginally more keen on this approach but didn't really want to commit.
CONS: might not work. Will involve drilling which is potentially more traumatic for ds1.

Extraction

PROS: far less traumatic. It's a baby tooth so it's going to be coming out at some point anyway.
CONS: apparently can cause problems later for the adult teeth as the other baby teeth move in to fill the gap. May require greater orthodontic work later.

I just don't know which is the best route to take at all. I have no experience of either (I've never had so much as a filling all my life). Plus the horrible guilt that I somehow failed in his dental hygiene. Any advice/experiences welcome.

Dumbledoresgirl Mon 22-Jun-09 10:55:51

On the basis of what you have written here, I would go for saving the tooth (presumably that would mean having a filling?) The drill isn't nice but he can have an anaesthetic and need not feel a thing once the anaesthetic has worked.

I had both fillings and extractions as a child - both with and without shock anaesthetic (boy it was tough in my day!) and I know which one I would prefer now.

Also, it seems as though taking the tooth out now might have longer term implications for the dental work he needs.

TeriHatchetJob Mon 22-Jun-09 10:55:56

Can't the dentist just seal it as opposed to filling to keep it going until it drops out itself. This has been done to a couple of my dcs teeth and worked well.

blinks Mon 22-Jun-09 10:56:15

save the tooth.

prepare him well for the drilling and lots of reassurance.

RubberDuck Mon 22-Jun-09 10:58:18

Teri: he has an abscess at the moment - his cheek swelled up like a balloon - I think it's too far gone just to seal

RubberDuck Mon 22-Jun-09 11:00:47

Dumbledoresgirl: the dentist was talking about packing the tooth with something and then sealing over the top? So I assume that's the same sort of thing as a filling.

TeriHatchetJob Mon 22-Jun-09 11:04:27

Oooh, painful. Either decision will be OK. My son has had fillings and extraction at about your sons age.

Do not feel guilty. My ds had very few sweets, no fizzy stuff, regular brushing and just suffered poor teeth requiring quite a bit of work. All is fine now. My dd, brought up exactly the same and has had no work done. These things just happen sometimes.

His extracted teeth didn't cause any problems for the bigger teeth coming through and the fillings were never that traumatic.

TigerFeet Mon 22-Jun-09 11:04:35

Poor ds1 Dentists are horrible [sweeping generalisation]

You know, completely off topic, I know in my head that he's 8 but something just won't allow me to believe it!

FWIW I would save the tooth.

warthog Mon 22-Jun-09 11:05:56

i would save the tooth

Dumbledoresgirl Mon 22-Jun-09 11:06:24

Umm, well, I am not a dentist so I cannot be sure, but no, a filling sounds different. With a filling, the rotten bit is drilled out and the space is packed with amalgam or whatever.

Anyway, never mind, your second post has changed my mind. If he has an abcess under the tooth, I think he should have it out. One of the teeth I had removed (without affective anaesthetic but that was in the bad old days - anaesthetics are much better now) was because I had an abcess underneath it.

I am amazed the dentist can't advise you more decisively actually. How are you supposed to weigh up the different aspects and know what is best for your child? Ask him what he would do if your son was his - I find that a good way of forcing professionals to make the best decision for me.

steamedtreaclesponge Mon 22-Jun-09 11:06:26

Hi Rubberduck

What a horrible decision to have to make - but if it helps I had a couple of fillings at that age (weak enamel, not too many sweets!) and was fine with it. I didn't even have anaesthetic (and I am in my 20s, so it wasn't that long ago), although they were only small holes so the drilling wasn't that painful.

As long as you explain to him exactly what will happen, and make sure he has adequate pain relief, he should be fine. My mother always found it hard seeing me have work done at the dentist, and I always got more upset seeing her in distress than I did by the actual dentistry.

norfolklass Mon 22-Jun-09 14:45:57

Rubberduck-Im a dental nurse or at least I was pre-child!!

Its much much better to try and save the tooth if at all possible. Is it one of his back teeth? If so then he should still have them for a while yet and it will maintain the space needed in his mouth until it falls out naturally and the adult teeth come through.

I know it sounds strange but in the hands of a good dentist a filling can actually be much less traumatic than an extraction. If it was a younger child it might be slightly different but an 8 year old should be able to understand whats being done and cope with a filling. The dentist I worked for always used to give me the job of explaining to the children what was being done to them and its amazing how much they know and can understand.

Hope that helps a bit?

RubberDuck Mon 22-Jun-09 15:24:39

Thank you for all the anecdotes and advice - you've been really really helpful.

I've had a long chat with ds1 about it including the information you've given, and we've both decided to go for the save the tooth if possible option. He's being very brave (in fact, good point steamed about me being in more distressed than him, will make sure I'm calm when we go in at the end of the week).

Just another quick question - I assume it's sensible to keep him off school for the whole day on the day the work is done? Can't think of anything worse than having to go back in if your mouth's a bit numb...

RubberDuck Thu 25-Jun-09 12:30:51

Just wanted to say thanks again. Ds1 had his filling today and did really well. He didn't exactly enjoy it, but he was incredibly brave and is now enjoying his day of illicit Nintendo DS playing instead of returning to school grin

Fingers crossed the filling works as dentist said it was still very swollen and infected. We'll have to see how things pan out over the next week.

TigerFeet Fri 26-Jun-09 15:31:26

Glad he is OK RD

DD has an abscess... bloody dentist prescribed her adult levels of antibiotics shock. Good job the chemist was awake.

Hope ds1's swelling and infection is better today x

RubberDuck Fri 26-Jun-09 16:00:51

shock - glad the pharmacist noticed and queried it TF, that's shocking! Hope she's better soon, poor thing

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