Preventative dental care helps establish the foundation for your child’s lifetime of healthy teeth and good oral health. We may recommend fluoride treatments and dental sealants in order to keep your child’s teeth free of cavities. Below you can find some tips that help your child practice good oral health care at home and reduce their chances of tooth decay.
Cavities In Children
Cavities, also called tooth decay or caries, are permanently damaged areas of teeth that may or may not show up as holes. Some children are at a much higher risk of developing cavities than others. There are many factors including genetics, diet, oral hygiene, and the bacterial flora of your mouth. At Stellar Kids Dentistry, our job is to support your home care efforts with professional cleanings, oral exams, and appropriate fluoride treatments.
Despite our best efforts, sometimes children will get cavities that need care or treatment. A shallow cavity can often be managed with conservative, drill free approaches.
Imagine a tooth like a hardboiled egg. The enamel would be the shell, the dentin would be the egg whites, and the pulp chamber would be the yolk.
- Take a hard look at your family’s typical diet. Ultimately, cavities are caused by the frequent consumption of refined and processed sugar (aka simple carbohydrates). These could be obvious things like candy or sport drinks, but usually it’s subtle choices like snacking on cookies, crackers, or chips. Any food that comes in a package, can, and box may contain tooth decay causing sugars. Cavities sneak up on children, so investigate which simple carbohydrates are sneaking into their snacks.
- Flossing and brushing with a fluoridated toothpaste, a minimum of 2 times a day, greatly increases the cavity’s healing ability by removing all dental plaque. Decades of research has shown that using a fluoride containing toothpaste will remineralize tooth structure.
Preventing Cavities in Children
Encourage brushing, flossing, and rinsing.
Avoid giving your child sticky foods.
Make treats part of meals.
Choose nutritious snacks.
Encourage your child to drink water or milk instead of sugary drinks.
Sealants are an excellent way to prevent cavities on the biting surface of primary and permanent back teeth. Tooth decay occurs when cavity causing bacteria grow on the surface of a tooth. The pits, fissures, and grooves of back molars provide the perfect hiding spots for these bacteria to grow and thrive. A well-crafted sealant will eliminate this bacterial habitat by cleaning and sealing those deep pits and grooves. Hence, bacteria are less likely to gain a foothold and progress to carious decay.
Silver Diamine Fluoride
SDF is a clear liquid that can be brushed into certain types of shallow cavities. It has been shown to be very effective in stopping cavities from worsening, in the right situation. However, SDF does blacken the decayed part of the tooth leaving it discolored. It may be a good option if:
- Your child is too young for dental treatment. We often place SDF on teeth knowing that we can eventually replace the discolored tooth surface with a proper esthetic filling.
- If your child’s cavity is on a baby tooth that will soon fall out,
- Or if the tooth is in the back of the mouth and hard to see (like a molar)
SDF is only effective in shallow cavities that are limited to the enamel layer. It is not reliably effective once tooth decay has penetrated the shell and is well into the dentin.
When a primary molar (back baby tooth) is lost too early, it is often necessary to stabilize the adjacent teeth. This is because the teeth on either side of the space tend to shift. If the space is not kept open, it will be lost. A space maintainer can help prevent space loss and prevent future orthodontic problems.
When a baby tooth is the front of the mouth and lost early, there is no space loss and a space maintainer is usually not necessary.
If only one tooth is missing, a unilateral (one-sided) spacer will be used. These spacers are commonly called Band & Loop or a Distal Shoe. If teeth are missing on both the left and right side of the mouth on the same arch, a bilateral (two-sided) spacer is used. They are commonly called a TPA Appliance for the upper teeth or a Lower Lingual arch for lower teeth.
We check these space maintainers for fit and stability at your child’s recare visits. If you see a new tooth growing under the space maintainer, or if the space maintainer comes loose, please call our office to schedule an appointment. It may be time to remove the appliance or re-cement it.
111 SE Everett Mall Way, Ste. D
Everett, WA 98208
T: (425) 212-1810
13209 44th Ave SE, Ste. 101
Mill Creek, WA 98012
T: (425) 381-4990