Dental cavities affect all children to varying degrees. You can minimize the risk of cavities by teaching your children about optimal brushing and flossing techniques, but the best way to prevent cavities is through regular dental cleanings and checkups. When cavities occur, it’s important to address the problem early to prevent it from worsening.
At Nova Children’s Dentistry, we inculcate the best oral hygiene habits in children and perform regular teeth cleanings to prevent plaque accumulation. And if we identify signs of dental decay or cavities, we proactively treat the issue to restore optimal oral health. Please schedule an appointment at our dental offices in Ashburn and South Riding, VA, to learn more about cavities.
What are cavities?
Cavities, also known as caries, are holes in the teeth caused by the breakdown and subsequent destruction of the tooth enamel, i.e., the hard outer surface of the teeth. Cavities on the enamel don’t cause any pain or discomfort, but the child can experience severe pains and complications if the bacterial decay spreads past the enamel and into the root canal.
What are the symptoms of tooth decay?
- Formation of white spots on the teeth to indicate the gradual breakdown of enamel.
- Increases sensitivity in the teeth.
- The appearance of light brown cavities on the teeth.
- The cavity goes deeper, becoming dark brown or black.
- The child experiences pain around a specific tooth.
- The child complains while eating sweets, hot foods, or cold foods.
What are the causes of cavities in children?
Cavities are usually caused by bacteria. When foods containing carbohydrates, such as sugars and starches, are left on the teeth, the bacteria in the mouth can consume these foods to produce acids. Over time, the continued accumulation of trace food particles, acids, bacteria, and saliva leads to plaque formation.
You can restore the child’s optimal health, removing the plaque and acids during the scheduled teeth cleanings. However, without regular teeth cleaning, the acids and plaque continue accumulating, eventually eating away the enamel, thereby leading to cavities. The foods most likely to cause cavities include cake, fruit juices, carbonated drinks, bread, milk, soda, etc.
What are the treatments for cavities in children?
Cavities in children can have various treatments, depending on the child’s age, the tooth’s condition, symptoms, general health, and other factors. In most cases, the decayed parts of the tooth are removed and replaced with dental materials. Depending on the cavity’s size, the child might need a filling or a dental crown.
The following are the treatment options for cavities in children:
- Fillings: Also known as direct restorations, fillings can be placed in a single session. The pediatric dentist removes the decayed parts of the tooth and places a filling into the hole. The filling can be made of composite resin, silver, fine glass powders, and other materials.
- Inlays & Onlays: Inlays and onlays are suitable for teeth wherein the cavities have reached the cusps. The inlays and onlays are prepared outside the mouth in a laboratory and then attached to the affected tooth. The entire procedure takes two sessions.
- Crowns: Dental crowns are caps attached over the affected or decayed teeth. If the cavity is too large for inlays and onlays, the dentist must remove most of the upper surfaces of the teeth. The tooth-shaped dental crown is then attached to the tooth.
How can you prevent cavities in children?
- Start brushing your child’s teeth as soon as the first one erupts.
- Brush at least twice a day using fluoride toothpaste.
- If the child is younger than 3, use a small grain-sized amount of toothpaste.
- If the child is older than 3, use a pea-sized amount of toothpaste.
- Floss the child’s teeth after 2 years of age.
- Limit sticky and sugary foods from the child’s diet.
- Schedule regular dental cleanings and check-ups every 6 months.
- Follow the pediatric dentist’s recommendations.