U.S. doctors online nowAsk doctors free
Santa Clara, CA
A 36-year-old male asked:

my 5 year old has some front teeth decay (doesn't complain of pain). should i wait for the teeth to fall off or get the treatment which (would involve general anesthesia which am not comfortable with?

25 doctor answers55 doctors weighed in
Dr. Tanya Russo
Pediatrics 25 years experience
Treatment is best: Since tooth decay in primary teeth can affect permanent teeth even before they have erupted, having them treated would be wise. If your are uncomfortable with your current dentist's recommendation, seek a second opinion for confirmation. Anesthesia is quite safe in the hands of an experienced anesthesiologist .
Dr. Lawrence Grodin
Dentistry 38 years experience
Removal of decay from baby teeth is very important to help preserve tooth structure . It is not always necessary to use general anesthesia with children to repair a cavity.
Jan 28, 2015
Dr. Helena Bentley
Pediatrics 39 years experience
Dental cavities: You should get it taken care of as soon as possible to prevent further decay and/or to prevent damage to the permanent teeth. Toothaches are horrible. Don't risk the possibility of your child having to experience a toothache.
Dr. Theodore Davantzis
Dentistry 40 years experience
Tooth Decay: Unless the tooth will be lost in the next month or so (which should not happen on a 5 year old), the teeth should be restored. Treatment can prevent a host of future problems. Consider taking care of the problem now.
Dr. Paul Grin
Dr. Paul Grin answered
Pain Management 36 years experience
See a pedodontist: a dentist who specializes in the care of children's teeth.
Dr. John Thaler
Prosthodontics 41 years experience
See Pedodontist: Important to have teeth restored. Child may be in pain but has become accustomed to it. I treated children this age in Dental School, as a student, and they did fine without general anesthesia. See the specialist in children's dentistry -- the Pedodontist. You will be amazed at how they do what they do. Good Luck.
Dr. Debra Rosenblatt
Dentistry 38 years experience
Consult with dentis: Consult with your dentist, as to the amount of root left on the primary teeth. If the dentist feels that the secondary teeth will come in soon, the decayed teeth will act to hold the space. If that is not the case and the teeth become symptomatic, treat immediately to avoid further problems.
Dr. Benjamin Dancygier
Pediatric Dentistry 25 years experience
I agree. You can't determine when the teeth in question will come out on their own without an x-ray. If it appears that they will stay for a while you should get a second opinion to see if your child can be treated without general anesthesia. How was your child's behavior at their last visit?
Jan 31, 2015
Dr. Leslie Barrilleaux
Dentistry 32 years experience
At 5 years old, it could be years before the primary front teeth come out naturally. See a dentist or pedodontist to have the fillings completed before further destruction occurs.
Feb 1, 2015
Dr. Howard Schneider
Pediatric Dentistry 34 years experience
That depends on: several different factors: How deep is the decay? When do you expect these teeth to fall out naturally? How successful do they anticipate treatment to be? General anesthesia for dental treatment is very safe when done by an anesthesiologist. That being said I would get a second opinion so that you can hear any other possible treatment options and are comfortable with your ultimate decision.
Dr. Benjamin Dancygier
Pediatric Dentistry 25 years experience
Front teeth: Actually the front primary teeth do not function to hold space for permanent teeth to come in as the posterior teeth do. There has been numerous studies which show that there is no statistical space loss related to premature loss of anterior primary teeth.
Dr. Arnold Malerman
Orthodontics 53 years experience
Child abuse: Dental Decay is an infection. Failure to have infection, which may become exacerbated and life threatening, is child abuse reportable to Social Services. The infection represents a greater threat to your child's health than does the anesthesia.
Dr. Sandra Eleczko
Dentistry 36 years experience
Decayed baby teeth: It is very important to get these decayed baby teeth taken care of. Untreated decayed baby teeth can effect the growth and development of the permanent teeth as well as his self esteem. Your son may have more pain than you realize. He may not know what normal should feel like. Pediatric dentists commonly use nitrous oxide during this procedure which is not general anesthesia.
Dr. Gary Sandler
Dentistry 54 years experience
5 yr old with decay: What you shouldn't do is 2 use the fact that there is no pain as a reason not 2 pursue proper treatment or to use the fear of GA as a reason to possibly prevent a bigger issue. I know of a child who is mentally disabled from a decayed tooth that caused a brain abscess. That's RARE! Having said this, I would recommend that you find two reputable highly recommended Pedodontists to consult with.
Dr. Rita Agarwal
Anesthesiology 35 years experience
Check with dentist: I am not a dentist, but I think it should be treated.. Often there is more decay elsewhere which is not as obvious that needs to be diagnosed and treated. General anesthesia in a 5 year old is very common and extremely safe
Dr. John Sheets
Dr. John Sheets commented
Dentistry 33 years experience
I would seek treatment as soon as possible. With deep decay, there may be few symptoms until abscess or infection set in. The infection can harm the development of the permanent teeth so it is very important so a dentist can X-ray and examine the area and give you advice for treatment.
Feb 2, 2015
Dr. Zahid Ahmed
Dr. Zahid Ahmed commented
Dentistry 11 years experience
You should definitely seek treatment. A cavity, which is an infection, needs to be treated. Also take proper steps for diet or lifestyle modification to reduce caries risk factors.
Feb 2, 2015
Dr. Gabriel Malouf
Specializes in Dentistry
I recommend not.: Ultimately you need to decide if you are more comfortable with anesthesia (which is everywhere in today's world) or with infection which is in your child's tooth. Consider another opinion (another office could make a big difference). It may be years before the teeth fall out. Either way, discontinue sugars (of any sort) between meals; get a prescription and stop decay from growing.
Dr. Abraham Thomas
Dentistry 28 years experience
Untreated Decay: I highly recommend seeking treatment. Untreated tooth decay may lead to serious oral and maxillofacial infections and pain. Seek out a pediatric dentist who can provide a few anesthetic and sedation options.
Dr. Jayang Vora
Dentistry 48 years experience
Consult your dds: there are several teeth which are called front teeth. Usually at around 6 years of age permanent teeth wants to push baby teeth out and at that time kids do complaint of discomfort. This is a natural process. Without knowing more detail it will be difficult to 2 md guess. Good luck.
Dr. Felicia Mata
Cosmetic Dentistry 25 years experience
See a Pedodontist: if your general dentist cannot manage your daughter. Usually, there's no need of general anaesthesia unless the child patient is incorrigible or uncooperative. Decay is caused by bacteria and the eruption of her permanent incisors are not due yet (6-7 years). Besides, she may already be aware that her teeth don't look healthy like her peers.
Dr. Stephen Pyle
Dentistry 39 years experience
Should be evaluated: It depends...if shallow decay and adult teeth are ready to come in, he may require no treatment.. If he is late in getting his teeth and decay is deeper, he should be treated. This may not involve complete decay removal and general anesthesia, as it may be possible to excavate the surface decay and place a filling material that releases fluoride to last until the adult teeth arrive.
Dr. James Manning
Dentistry 43 years experience
See a pedodontist...: Since the age span is 5-8yo for kids for tooth loss, these may not be lost soon. See a children's dentist. There are options that may not include a day surgery admission. You don't want your child to be in discomfort or develop an abscess. Also, the life skills and habits that prevent tooth decay are learned early, you need to address these issues ASAP as caries at this age is a. warning sign.
Dr. Thomas Yash
Dentistry 46 years experience
Get examined: Go to dentist for an examination. They can decide the severity of the dental caries. The front teeth will be present for several more years. However, there may be other cavities hiding in back teeth. They will advise you of proper care to keep your child safe. Possible infections are never a good thing. Best of luck.
Dr. John DeWolf
Dentistry 40 years experience
Pedodontist: A dentist who specializes in treating children is often able to accomplish a lot without having to use general anesthesia. If they have already confirmed that it is required, you will be in good hands. The most important thing is to address the underlying causes of your child's decay (diet or homecare) so new decay is arrested and this is a 1 time occurrence
Dr. Elton Behner
Dentistry 37 years experience
Keep the teeth...: they are important to the development of speech, chewing and swallowing, holding space for adult teeth, child's self-esteem, prevent bullying and these are just a few that come to mind. Seek the advice of a children's dentist (Pedodontist) without delay.
Dr. Maryam Chiani
Dentistry 29 years experience
Treat them: primary teeth are as important as permanent teeth. Decayed teeth are infection in your body and must be restored properly.
Dr. Louis Gallia
Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery 45 years experience
Pediatric dentist: Get an opinion from a childrens' dentist - pedodontisst.
Dr. Diane Minich
Family Medicine 37 years experience
See dentist: and have them evaluate the teeth and see what they recommend.
Dr. Natalie Hodge
Pediatrics 26 years experience
DO NOT WAIT: Do not wait! I understand you have concerns with anesthesia, which definitely need to be addressed. A serious infection deep in the tooth or extension into the jaw is at risk! Please get a dentist pediatric dentist appointment today!

90,000 U.S. doctors in 147 specialties are here to answer your questions or offer you advice, prescriptions, and more. Get help now:

Ask doctors free
Personalized answers
Talk to a doctor
24/7 visits
$15 per month

90,000 U.S. doctors in 147 specialties are here to answer your questions or offer you advice, prescriptions, and more. Get help now:

Ask doctors free
Personalized answers
Talk to a doctor
24/7 visits
$15 per month
Last updated Oct 3, 2018


Content on HealthTap (including answers) should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment, and interactions on HealthTap do not create a doctor-patient relationship. Never disregard or delay professional medical advice in person because of anything on HealthTap. Call your doctor or 911 if you think you may have a medical emergency.