Do you usually get your child’s teeth done at the same dental office? Don’t worry, that’s perfectly normal. There’s no harm in sharing a dentist. But there are a few nuances your kid’s dental development has that might go unaddressed. And nothing encapsulates this as well as the different child tooth decay treatment options. How pediatric dentists fill cavities—or rather, treat them—is a testament to this.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) notes kids with signs of early childhood caries might need a trip to the dental office as soon as possible. Even the most subtle of symptoms—the AAP notes chalky white spots as an initial indication—could lead to cavities without immediate attention. Fortunately, the earlier you treat it, the easier it is to reverse the effects.
How, then, do pediatric dentists treat cavities in baby teeth?
Prevention is the best cure
The best way to treat a disease is to stop it from happening. It’s something so widely understood that this adage has so many variations. And when it comes to child tooth decay, it’s something that continues to hold true.
In 2010, the AAP released A Pediatric Guide to Children’s Oral Health. It contained guidelines on how to take care of one’s primary teeth. Especially at crucial developmental stages. Aside from providing information, the guide also encourages preventive dental measures. In the section on feeding, there are guidelines for each feeding method, from breastfeeding to sippy cups. One article also covers the use and benefits of fluoride varnish. Even children aged 0-3 years can get the advantages of this treatment. This is particularly true for children with a compromised immune system.
Keeping to the proper oral care guidelines and fluoride varnish are great preventive measures. But another way pediatric dentists prevent dental caries in baby teeth is dental sealants. A dental sealant is a resin coating that plugs in any natural grooves or crevices in the teeth where food particles can collect. These areas are usually more prone to cavities. Covering them can lessen these incidents.
Cavity treatment depends on your child’s age and severity of decay
It can seem counterintuitive to treat a tooth that’ll fall off anyway. But don’t write off treating cavities in baby teeth just yet. Letting the damage be could lead to more severe problems and severe pain. And it cascades down to their permanent teeth.
How does one treat cavities in baby teeth, then? It really depends on two factors: your child’s age and the severity of the tooth decay. For the most part, you can fix up small cavities with a dental filling. The procedure follows your typical operation. Anesthesia is provided, the teeth are cleaned, and the decay is drilled out and filled. The difference depends on how young your child is. Younger kids might be a little fussier and might need a stronger anesthetic to make it through the operation. Older kids might be able to fare better with a local anesthetic.
If the cavity is too severe—or if the decay is too big for a filling to cover—there are two other options your child’s pediatric dentist might take. One is to create a dental crown for the tooth (which we discussed at length here), and the second is tooth extraction. If your child needs to undergo the latter, they might also need a space maintainer to prevent their permanent teeth from crowding in the area.