Cavities are small holes in the teeth caused by decay. They are among the most common health problems in the nation and can affect people of all ages.
Kids tend to have more cavities than adults because they often haven’t developed a solid dental hygiene routine. Kids also tend to consume more sugary, sticky foods that are linked to dental decay.
The human mouth is filled with a mix of bacteria, some of which are helpful and some that are potentially harmful. Those bacteria feed on starchy, sugary foods and drinks, converting the carbohydrates in those foods into acids.
The acids combine with saliva, food particles, and bacteria to form sticky plaque that coats the teeth. Unless plaque is thoroughly removed every day, the acids begin to dissolve tooth tissue, creating tiny cavities that will slowly intrude into adjacent healthy tooth tissue.
It’s important to note that cavities don’t always show clear symptoms, especially in the early stages. That’s why routine dental exams are such an essential part of good dental hygiene, as they give your child’s dentist the chance to spot tooth decay in the earliest possible stages.
Some indications of a cavity include:
If your child complains of any unusual tooth sensations or you see these visible signs of decay, call the office right away to schedule a dental exam.
When treating a cavity, the most important step is removing all decayed tooth tissue and placing a durable material within or atop the area to prevent further damage. The most common treatment is a dental filling, which works by removing damaged tooth tissue before filling the cavity with a tooth-colored substance to prevent additional decay.
For teeth with a substantial amount of existing decay, a crown may be a better approach. Dental crowns cover all visible sides of a tooth and are highly durable. If the decay has advanced near or into the inner chamber of the tooth, a procedure called a baby root canal, or pulpotomy, removes part of the nerve along with the infected pulp to save the tooth.
In some cases, the only option is to extract a severely decayed tooth. Pulling a baby tooth leaves a gap in the smile that can allow remaining teeth to shift out of position. Installing a space maintainer is a great way to prevent shifting and allow room for the permanent tooth to come in normally.
If you have questions or concerns about cavities and treatment options, call Desert Kids Dentistry today to set up a visit. Online booking is also available and takes just moments to complete.