Do you think your child is dealing with a cavity? You’re not alone. Cavities are common. Over 40% of kids aged 2-19 experience at least one cavity. Cavities won’t go away on their own. The only way to fix them is by visiting a local pediatric dentist. Putting it off will only make the issue worse.
As a parent, you’re responsible for your child’s oral health. This includes making sure they brush and floss regularly, but pediatric teeth cleaning isn’t enough to guarantee that your child never gets a cavity.
Read on to learn all about how a pediatric dentist treats cavities.
What Are Cavities?
Cavities are holes in teeth caused by tooth decay. They occur when the enamel on your child’s teeth breaks down.
There are three stages of tooth decay. As it progresses, it affects different parts of a tooth.
The first is the development of plaque. Plaque is a film-like substance usually caused by a diet high in sugars and carbs and incorrect teeth cleaning practices.
Without proper cleaning, bacteria can feast on the sugar and carbs present in your child’s mouth.
Plaque is very acidic and begins to wear away at tooth enamel, the hard outer surface of a tooth. This is the initial stage of cavity development.
Once the enamel is worn away, the bacteria can enter the next layer of a tooth, called dentin. At this stage, your child may complain of a toothache.
Finally, the decay can move into the pulp, the inner-most layer of a tooth. This layer houses blood vessels and nerve endings. By now, it’s likely your child is experiencing significant discomfort.
How Cavities Are Treated
Fixing a cavity is usually a simple procedure. Many can be filled in easily and the process is mostly painless.
Treating cavities is always safe, and the process typically takes about an hour. Aside from assuring your child that there’s nothing to be afraid of, you won’t need to do anything special to prepare for cavity treatment.
Once your pediatric dentist identifies a cavity, the first step is numb the area so your child will feel the least amount of pain possible.
The dentist has a few options for this. “Laughing gas” is one of the most common ways.
It’s a nitrous oxide mixture dispensed through a mask. With this method, your child remains awake during the procedure but won’t feel pain.
If your child has significant dental anxiety, your dentist may recommend a stronger sedative to put them to sleep. Consult with your dentist if you think child sedation dentistry may be necessary.
Once the pain medication takes effect, the dentist can begin drilling the decayed tooth. They’ll remove all areas of decay from the affected tooth.
Water helps dislodge any other debris, and an assistant uses a dental suction device to remove it from the mouth.
Applying the Filling
With the decayed matter removed, the dentist can start the filling process.
A topical gel helps prepare the tooth. Its job is to clean the area so no debris is left behind.
Once the tooth is clean, the dentist applies an adhesive. The filling material bonds to the adhesive so it sticks in your child’s mouth. A light sets and hardens the material.
The dentist will repeat this process a few times since it usually takes a few layers to fill a tooth.
You have several options when it comes to dental fillings. They can be gold, silver amalgams, composite resin, ceramic, or acrylic. Your pediatric dentist will advise you on which one is best.
Many parents prefer composite fillings because they can closely match the look of other teeth. Acrylic fillings also might be a good option for your child’s changing mouth structure.
The final stages of cavity treatment involve polishing the tooth and removing any edges left behind by the filling process. This helps the treated area look and feel like a regular tooth.
The last step is to make sure the tooth is level with the rest of the teeth in your child’s mouth. For this, the dentist will check your child’s bite with a piece of carbon paper.
If the tooth is too high, the dentist files it down until it’s in line with the other teeth.
Other Kinds of Cavity Treatment
In some cases, a filling isn’t enough to treat a cavity in a child’s mouth. This happens if tooth decay has reached its more advanced stages. You can help prevent this by monitoring your child’s oral health and treating their cavities as soon as possible.
Some cavities are too large to be treated with a filling. For these cavities, your dentist will install a dental crown.
Crowns are a sort of protective cap that fits over the top of a tooth. They’re usually made of resin or stainless steel and provide protection, strength, and structure to decayed teeth.
To install a crown, your pediatric dentist first removes the decayed tooth material, leaving behind enough enamel to support the crown. Then, they place the crown on the enamel.
It usually takes two visits to install a crown.
If tooth decay reaches the pulp, the dentist may need to perform a pulpotomy. This means removing the pulp in addition to the decayed tooth material.
Your child will then need a dental crown placed on the affected tooth.
Extraction is a last-resort option reserved for the most severe cases of cavities. Dentists extract decayed teeth when there isn’t enough healthy tooth structure to support a filling or a crown.
A Local Pediatric Dentist You Can Trust
Cavities are fairly common in children, so don’t be alarmed if your child develops one. Your local pediatric dentist can treat it easily.
They’ll remove the decayed parts of the tooth and attach a filling to cover up the area. The process usually takes one visit and is virtually painless.
It’s important to treat cavities as soon as you can. In more severe cases of tooth decay, more work may be required.
Does your child need cavity treatment? Nolensville Pediatric Dentistry is ready to help.
Our team employs even employs sedation dentistry for kids who are nervous about the procedure. Get in touch with our office to schedule an appointment today.