3 Cavity Treatment Options for Children

how to treat cavities in baby teeth

3 Cavity Treatment Options for Children

Do cavities in baby teeth require treatment if the teeth are just going to fall out anyway? Absolutely! When left untreated, the harmful bacteria that cause cavities in baby teeth can actually lead to painful infections that may even affect the development of your child’s permanent teeth. Continue reading to find out what symptoms to watch for in your child and how to treat cavities in baby teeth before they cause more damage.  

What Causes Cavities in Baby Teeth?

Poor oral hygiene and a diet high in sugar and starch are the main cause of cavities, especially when combined. Bacteria feed on sugar and starch to grow into plaque that attacks your child’s teeth. And when plaque sits on teeth, it hardens into tartar, which is much more difficult to remove. Because baby teeth have a thinner layer of protective enamel than adult teeth, young children are more vulnerable to tooth decay. 

The best way to prevent cavities in baby teeth is to make sure your child does the following:

  • Brushes their teeth twice a day and flosses daily
  • Eats a healthy diet full of nutritious fruits and vegetables, and drinks plenty of water
  • Attends their twice-yearly dental checkups

In addition to these proactive measures, you may also want to consider dental sealants for your child. Dental sealants shield teeth from bacteria, reducing the risk of developing cavities in baby teeth. We generally recommend applying dental sealants as soon as the six-year molars come in. However, it’s still a good idea to schedule a consultation to determine if and when dental sealants are right for your child.   

Symptoms of Cavities in Baby Teeth

Whether your child is a toddler or older, the signs of cavities and tooth decay are generally the same. Decayed baby teeth can cause pain and discomfort for your child, so it’s best to seek treatment as soon as you notice any of the following signs:

  • Pain when eating, biting, or brushing teeth—this may cause fussiness or food avoidance in younger children
  • White or dark spots on the tooth
  • Persistent bad breath
  • Sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods and drinks
  • Swelling of the mouth

How to Treat Cavities in Baby Teeth

There are several treatment options for cavities in baby teeth. However, the type of treatment your child or toddler needs depends on the severity of the cavity. If the cavity is small, a dental filling may be sufficient to repair the tooth. However, if the cavity has caused significant damage, a crown or even extraction may be necessary.

1. Dental Fillings

In most cases, dental fillings are all your child or toddler will need to treat their cavities. Dental fillings can treat cavities in both adult and baby teeth. 

If you’ve ever had a filling yourself, you can explain to your child exactly what to expect. The dentist will numb your child’s mouth and remove the tooth decay. Then they will fill the hole left by the decay with tooth-colored composite resin. If your child has multiple cavities, it may help to schedule several appointments so they won’t have to spend too long in the dentist’s chair at one time.  

2. Dental Crown

If the damage is severe, a dental filling may not be enough to preserve the baby or permanent tooth. If that is the case, your child may require a dental crown, which covers the tooth entirely. To prep a tooth for a crown, the dentist numbs the area and removes the tooth decay, just like prepping for a filling. However, they will also need to shape the tooth to fit the crown. Then they can place and secure a crown that matches the shape of the original tooth.  

3. Tooth Extraction

As dentists, we do everything possible to save a tooth. But in extreme cases of decay, tooth extraction may be necessary. This is a last resort, especially with baby teeth, because the premature loss of baby teeth can cause problems with speech, chewing, and the development of permanent teeth. Extraction of a baby tooth typically only requires a local anesthetic, but a permanent tooth extraction will likely call for general anesthesia

Tooth extraction procedures and recovery take longer and cause more discomfort than fillings or crowns. That’s why it’s so important to keep an eye on your child’s oral health—encouraging good oral hygiene habits can prevent severe tooth decay. 

Cavity Treatment for Children in Prescott, Arizona

If your child is exhibiting any symptoms of cavities, don’t hesitate to contact Hicks Dental Group. As a family practice, we know how to gently treat cavities in both baby and adult teeth. Give us a call at 928-445-6030 today to schedule an appointment for your child.

Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (2/24/2022). Photo by Jeremiah Lawrence on Unsplash