Baby teeth are not just smaller versions of adult teeth, they require their own approach. A deciduous (milk) tooth has a more prominent pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels, and has poorer quality enamel in comparison to an adult tooth. It is also more difficult to see decay in between deciduous teeth. Any filling placed in a deciduous tooth is relatively large as the teeth are so small which means the filling is less likely to last as long as the same size filling in an adult tooth.
With this in mind we often place a stainless-steel crown over a tooth with decay. This covers every exposed surface of the tooth and therefore seals the tooth and decay off from the rest of the mouth, which means the decay cannot worsen and the tooth will remain stable until it wobbles out. We describe these crowns to children as a shiny hat for their tooth! This may sound very complicated but in skilled hands it is straight forward.
Young children over 6 years of age have permanent (adult) teeth too, which will be in their mouths for the rest of their life. This is why it is so important to instill a good oral hygiene routine from a young age. This can help teeth to last a lifetime, which is especially important as one quarter of girls and one fifth of boys being born now will live to 100 years old!
1 Cruikshank Lea