Treating Tooth Decay in Kids
Tooth decay is the breakdown, or weakening, of tooth enamel. If not treated, it can lead to cavities. Cavities can have a significant impact on teeth, even baby teeth, compromising the strength of the teeth and the health of the mouth. Even if your child has decay or a cavity in a baby tooth, it is important that the issue is addressed immediately. The Elmwood Dental Group LLC can help.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay is caused by acids produced by plaque and bacteria that are found naturally within the mouth. Plaque is naturally acidic, while bacteria feed on sugars in the mouth, producing acids. These acids damage, or weaken, the enamel layer of the teeth. Sugars come from a variety of different sources, including cereals, milk, fruit juices, bread, and more.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay
As tooth decay develops and then turns into a cavity, there are symptoms that can appear. These symptoms include:
Why Treat Decay in Baby Teeth?
Many parents may wonder why they should worry about treating a cavity in a baby tooth when the tooth is just going to fall out anyway. Treating cavities in baby teeth is essential to protecting the oral health of your child. The baby teeth play many important roles in the mouth. Not only do they help your child to bite and chew, but they also help your child develop proper speech. The baby teeth also hold space in the mouth for the developing adult teeth. If a cavity develops in a baby tooth, it can lead to an infection, which can cause infections in the adult tooth underneath. Also, if a baby tooth is faced with severe decay, it may fall out, which can compromise the development and eruption of the adult tooth underneath.
If the decay is found early enough, before a cavity has begun forming, it is possible to reverse the effects. We can often treat these early stages with a fluoride varnish, which helps to restore strength to the enamel, eliminating the early decay.
If the decay has started to turn into a cavity, it cannot be reversed, but it can be treated. Cavities are often treated with fillings, either amalgam or composite resin. Amalgam fillings, made up of a mixture of metals, are incredibly strong. This makes them ideal for teeth at the back of the mouth. However, they are silver in color. We can also provide composite fillings, which are tooth colored. These fillings are a good option for cavities in visible teeth. After the tooth is cleaned and the decay removed, the filling material is placed inside and cured, or dried, providing immediate protection.
For teeth affected by larger cavities, you will be referred to a pediatric dentist. They may suggest that a crown may be needed. A crown is a restoration that covers the entire visible portion of the decayed tooth, preventing further damage and restoring strength. This treatment allows the tooth to stay in the socket until it is ready to fall out on its own. Crowns for baby teeth are often made from stainless steel. In the event the tooth decay is too severe, the tooth may need to be extracted and a space maintainer placed to help keep the space open for the developing adult tooth.
Helping Your Child Stay Calm
We understand that children can become anxious or fearful when it comes to treating a cavity. Holding their hand during treatment can help to keep them calmer. You can also bring a comfort item from home for them to hold. If they are exceptionally nervous, sedation may be recommended to help them remain calm and allow us to perform treatment in a safe and effective manner.
If you notice any symptoms of tooth decay in the teeth of your child, it is important that you get them treatment right away. The sooner decay is treated, the easier, and less invasive, the treatment is. For more information, and to schedule an appointment for your child, call The Elmwood Dental Group LLC at (860) 331-8748 today.