Cavities in children occur when there's tooth decay from the breakdown and damage of the tooth enamel. Once the tooth's outer surface is damaged, your child can end up with holes in the teeth, called cavities. This problem is common among children because of poor oral hygiene.
In addition, if teeth cavities are left untreated, they can be detrimental to a child's overall health and development. This is because your child can go through the pain and could get an infection from the cavities. The pain and infection can interfere with speech, eating, and learning. Having said that, here's what to do if your kid has cavities:
1. Visit A Dentist
It's advisable to schedule regular dentist visits for your child for checkups and sometimes to clean. In most cases, a child might not experience pain from a tooth cavity. This can make it difficult to identify cavities earlier. However, if you notice any of the following signs, you'll need to take your kid to the dentist:
- Sensitivity to cold and hot foods and drinks
- Dark or white spots on the tooth
- Swollen gums or mouth
Ensure that you take your kid to a reputable dentist, such as Dover dentist Dr. Betel, with pediatric care experience. The dentist can carefully examine and determine whether your child has cavities and recommend the best intervention option.
Additionally, a dentist can advise on the best way to maintain oral hygiene in children. This is because oral hygiene is the primary method of preventing cavities, especially in children.
2. Get Treatment
Once a dentist has determined that your child has cavities, they can offer several treatment options. The primary goal is to save the tooth because the treatment can affect how a permanent tooth grows later.
One of the treatment options that can be offered to your child is filling. It’s an excellent intervention for children and toddlers with milk teeth and cavities in multiple teeth. However, filling is also recommended for permanent teeth.
The dentist cleans the tooth and removes all the decay when getting a filling. The hole is then filled with a white substance or a metal material. Next, the dentist creates ridges on the surface of the filling to match the other teeth and enable proper chewing.
If the tooth decay is severe, the dentist may recommend a reconstruction procedure to place a dental crown on the tooth. This can be a lengthy procedure, and you might have to take your child to the dentist twice because the repair utilizes a customized material.
During a reconstruction procedure, the dentist will clean the tooth, remove the decayed part and replace it with a dental crown. In most cases, the dental crown is a silver material molded into the exact shape and size of the child's tooth.
The dentist may recommend an extraction if the tooth is extremely damaged and can't be saved. This is often the last resolution, especially where the cavity has resulted in an infection. However, to ensure that the extraction doesn't affect the growth of a permanent tooth, the dentist can install a space maintainer to keep the gap open.
Taking your child to receive treatment for tooth decay can be a challenging experience, especially when they have to sit still for a procedure. In some cases, the dentist may use nitrous gas, popularly known as laughing gas, to calm the child and make them relaxed throughout the procedure.
Though the dentist will still have to administer a numbing injection, the nitrous oxide makes it easier. In other cases, the dentist may recommend orally sedating the child, especially for lengthy procedures such as reconstructions.
Nonetheless, you can talk with the doctor and your child about the present state of the tooth cavity and the recommended solution. It’ll help your child understand what's happening to them and make them comfortable during the procedures. Moreover, you'll also be in a better place to make an informed decision.
3. Introduce Oral Hygiene Practices
The best preventive measure for teeth cavities is proper oral hygiene. You’re responsible for teaching your child how to care for their teeth properly. The goal should be to teach your children good hygiene practices early so that they turn them into a routine as they grow.
While children need to learn to brush and floss their teeth daily, ensure that children below two years don't use fluoride toothpaste and those over three to six years use a limited amount. Moreover, all children below eight years should be assisted when brushing their teeth to ensure they're clean and the buildup on the gums is also cleaned.
4. Provide Healthy Foods
Some foods, such as sweets, can contribute to tooth decay in children. Avoid giving your children such foods instead introduce them to healthier options. For example, foods rich in calcium and vitamin C can help strengthen the teeth, help brighten your child's smile, and fight bacteria that cause tooth decay in children.
Tooth decay can significantly affect your child's development, especially if it interferes with eating and speaking. It'd be best to regularly visit a dentist to ensure that any signs of tooth decay are investigated early and treated. It helps preserve your child's teeth and avoid issues with the growth of permanent teeth.