Ask a Dentist

Dr. Allen K. Hirai is celebrating 25 years of providing exceptional comprehensive dental care to the children of Hawaii.

Should cavities in baby teeth be fixed since they will eventually be replaced?

Yes. In a child’s normal developmental time frame, all 20 primary teeth will eventually be replaced by adult (permanent) teeth. However, each

permanent tooth has a special time when it will erupt and every child has his or her own developmental timetable. Therefore, it is critical in a child’s oral development to preserve the health and integrity of the primary teeth. The primary teeth help children chew food that is necessary for proper growth, provide space maintenance and assist with bite development. Additionally, a child’s comfort and health can be compromised if an untreated cavity were to result in a dental abscess (i.e., tooth infection).

What is your philosophy regarding parents in the operatory with their child?

Standard philosophy among most pediatric dentists is that parents are not allowed in the operatory. In my practice, however, this philosophy is not absolute. I will allow parents to observe quietly as long as the child is cooperative and responds appropriately to our directions. However, before the parent is allowed in the operatory, the conditions are explained to the child as well as the parent. In fact, the parents’ presence is used as an incentive or reward for the child to cooperate. This is an example of positively reinforcing the child’s cooperation. It also enables the parent to feel more comfortable with the nurturing environment we provide the child.