Cavities in Kids: Causes, Signs, Treatment and Prevention
Cavities in kids are quite common.
It damages the tooth and can worsen the adult teeth of your child.
The baby teeth are as important as the permanent ones, hence your child shouldn’t have caries in any.
This article discusses what causes and prevention of caries to stop in time.
Cavities result from dental plaque slowly eating away the enamel and forming a hole in the tooth.
This enamel erosion occurs due to bacteria in the mouth feeding of food and releasing acids.
The bacteria combine to build up plaque over time on your teeth.
What your child consumes plays a part in how quickly their teeth decay.
The combination of food, bacteria, saliva and acids results in tooth decay.
Plaque forms because of the combination of these four.
Now children who are at greater risk of cavities usually consume more sugars, carbohydrates and starch.
When bacteria feed on sugars, carbohydrates and starch, they all release acids.
Plus, they may also be drinking acidic beverages such as soft drinks that have both a higher sugary and acidic content.
Some children have higher levels of bacteria in their mouths.
This means they are more susceptible to developing a cavity.
Others may have less saliva production.
Saliva washes away the food particles stuck inside your mouth.
Hence, bacteria are unable to feed on the food particles and decay teeth.
A lower saliva production results in a dry mouth.
In that case, the saliva is unable to wash away the food particles and the bacteria feed on them product=ing acids to gradually erode the enamel.
However, this is rather rare in children.
What’s more common is not maintaining proper oral hygiene.
Brushing teeth twice a day and using floss daily can clean existing plaque and prevent its build-up.
However, not keeping with this oral hygiene routine regularly can make them susceptible to caries.
Since children usually eat sweet foods and snacks, not keeping up with proper oral hygiene can worsen their teeth.
Another important part of oral hygiene is using fluoride.
If water they drink isn’t fluoridated then they are prone to cavities.
The signs are different for every child however, decay does not initially pain.
If you start to see some blackness around their teeth or even white spots then that could be a sign of concern.
Take them to the dentist as soon as you notice the following signs.
Signs of Cavity in Toddler
- your child is crying and is fussy
- there are white spots on the tooth
- their mouth swells
- there is a hole in a tooth
- a light brown or dark color on teeth
- they feel lethargic
- there are dark spots present on their tooth
- they avoid food
- they feel tooth sensitivity while eating cold and hot foods
- their teeth also feel sensitive when eating anything sweet
These are the signs that you need to look out for.
Pain comes later whereby a lot of damage is already done.
So contact your dentist as soon as you see any of these signs.
If you do not treat cavities in kids in time, it will not only harm their teeth and the growth of permanent ones but can also cause infections.
They can cause life-threatening infections that have long-term effects.
Hence, if your child is suffering from decay and there is also drainage of pus, fever, severe pain, swelling and are facing difficulty while eating and chewing then visit your dentist soon.
Around 20 percent of children between 5 to 11 ages have untreated cavities.
While some children naturally have a weaker enamel and may be predisposed to them, there are ways to prevent it in children who are getting it from a lack of fluoride, eating sugary foods and not maintaining proper oral hygiene.
More on that below!
First, let’s find out, how you can treat them in children.
Tooth fillings treat cavities.
After the treatment, your dentist may apply fluoride varnish in order to prevent it from occurring again.
Though, that may be too strong for children so they will advise on brushing with fluoride toothpaste instead.
Treatment for Cavities in Kids
Can your child get dental fillings in Sharjah when they have baby teeth? Certainly, they can!
Fillings go on both permanent and baby teeth.
In fact, filling a cavity present on the baby tooth can save it.
That is far better than letting the bacteria evade it and the tooth fall off.
The permanent tooth that will grow as a result will not erupt properly as milk teeth hold up space for permanent ones.
Also, the milk teeth allow your child to speak and chew properly.
If your child has one or more cavities then the filling can go in the hole.
The dentist will first remove the decay and fill the remaining hole with a metal filling or a white composite.
There is no need to worry.
In fact, dentists carry out the procedure in children as young as 1 or 2 years old.
The procedure is made easy by the use of nitrous oxide.
This is the laughing gas.
It at least helps children to relax so they are not anxious about the procedure.
Next, the dentist gives them an injection to numb their gums.
They can also orally sedate your child.
What Happens in the Case of Severe Tooth Decay
If the decay is already severe, then your dentist may recommend an indirect restoration.
A direct restoration usually requires only one treatment.
On the other hand, indirect restoration requires more than one visit, usually two.
The dentist will fill the teeth but also includes repairing the tooth with a customized material.
Also breaking up the appointment in some sessions allows your child to catch their breath and get a little break so they are not as anxious.
They can also recommend giving your child general anesthesia if they are too young, have many cavities, and cannot stay still.
If the decay is severe, then your child may have to get a dental crown.
It is usually silver in color for children.
However, if your child’s tooth is extremely damaged and is probably also infected, then there is no other option left except for extraction.
After extracting the baby tooth, they will maintain the space the tooth held, with a space maintainer.
This way the permanent teeth will grow properly in that space.
However, preventing cavities in kids is much easier than treating them.
Keep a tab on what your child eats and maintain their oral hygiene from a young age.
Let’s find out how you can prevent their teeth from getting decayed below!
A dental visit for fillings can be tough for your child.
However, regular dental visits are important to save your child’s oral health and prevent decay.
So is keeping a regular oral hygiene routine.
Brushing and Flossing Daily to Prevent Cavities in Kids
Parents should clean their child’s gums as soon as they start drinking milk.
Wipe them clean with a clean washcloth.
As soon as their first tooth erupts, it is time to begin brushing too.
However, keep in mind that children under 3 years should only use toothpaste the size of a grain or rice.
Moreover, they should also avoid using fluoride toothpaste.
This is because children have yet not developed their swallowing and spitting reflexes at this point.
They will simply swallow the toothpaste so it should be in a negligible amount that does not harm children at all.
After that, they can begin taking pea-sized fluoride toothpaste to brush their teeth twice a day.
Plus, parents should be the ones brushing kids’ teeth at this stage.
This should continue until they are 6 to 8 years old, after which you can supervise how they brush.
Brushing teeth alone is not sufficient, they should brush properly.
Ensure that they are not harshly brushing rather using gentler strokes.
After that, there is flossing.
Flossing can start when two teeth that touch each other erupt.
Ideally flossing is done before brushing.
Parents can help their children with removing plaque in between teeth so that it does not form a cavity there.
This way your child will develop a habit of both brushing and flossing so they do not have to get decay.
Controlling What They Eat to Stop Cavities in Kids
There should be a limit to how much sugary, acidic and starchy foods your child can consume.
It is especially harder if your child has a sweet tooth and loves toffees, cookies, cakes, chocolates and ice creams.
Your child may not agree to completely give up all of these.
However, you can still limit them to a good amount in order to control their daily sugar intake.
What you can do instead is to offer them a healthier alternative.
Give them low glycemic fruits such as raspberries, blueberries and blackberries.
Eating granola bars and dried fruits with no added sugars can be an alternative snack to a candy bar.
Plus, eating trail mix with nuts, carrots and dip, an unsweetened apple sauce on the go are much better than sucking on a lollipop.
As an alternative to sweets and chips, you can give them foods that specifically improve oral health by strengthening the enamel.
These include Calcium-rich foods, those that contain proteins and are also high in Vitamin C content.
Bacteria fighting foods such as probiotic yogurt and cheese sticks can clean your mouth off harmful bacteria.
Plus foods such as celery, oranges, strawberries, hard-boiled eggs, apples and carrots are all good for oral health.
Give all of these to your child regularly.
Dental Checkups to Prevent Cavities in Kids
Your child’s first dental checkup is usually when they turn one.
Six months after their first tooth erupts, it is time to visit their dentist.
After that, they should come for every regular checkup every 6 months.
This helps your child to get familiar with the dentist and also their dental checkups.
This will let you know beforehand if there is any sign of decay and cavity.
Hence, your dentist can stop the condition from worsening in time.
Moreover, your child will also gain good dental habits such as brushing and flossing.
Your dentist will also suggest you include fluoride in your child’s routine when it is suitable for them.
If your tap water does not contain fluoride then they will give fluoride supplements to strengthen their enamel.
These measures can help to reduce cavities in kids.
Preventing is much easier than treating them for your little one.
So take steps in order to prevent tooth decay from happening in the first place.