Dental hygiene in children is valuable because when kids practice good habits now, they’ll keep them up into adulthood. While it’s easy to assume that, since they fall out naturally, it’s not necessary to take care of baby teeth, the opposite is true. Dental problems now can lead to worse issues down the road, including severe tooth decay.
One of the most common issues for children is the prevalence of pediatric cavities. Cavities are holes in the teeth caused by tooth decay, which usually occurs because of a buildup of plaque and debris on the tooth. Cavities can be extremely painful, and they may make it harder for your child to practice sufficient dental hygiene.
Thankfully, cavities can also be prevented with the right routines and dental care practices. So, with that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about pediatric cavities.
What Causes Cavities in Children?
The human mouth is full of bacteria, much of which is beneficial as it helps us break down the food we eat. However, bacteria love to multiply and spread, and as they do, they create waste. This waste leads to plaque buildup, which erodes the enamel of the teeth.
Over time, this erosion can create a hole in the tooth. Once that happens, the enamel is totally destroyed. This doesn’t mean you have to replace the tooth, but it’s imperative to fill the cavity before it spreads and causes further damage and discomfort.
Sugar is a primary source of harmful bacterial waste. Bacteria love to munch on sugar, and their populations can explode after eating sweets or sugary drinks. This is why it’s imperative to brush your teeth after eating to minimize the damage to the enamel.
How to Tell if Your Child Has Cavities
Your child likely isn’t very diligent about brushing and flossing their teeth all the time, so it’s up to you to monitor their dental hygiene habits. However, since it can be hard to check each tooth daily, you may need to watch out for warning signs of cavities, such as:
- Tooth Sensitivity – If your child complains about their teeth hurting, especially when eating hot or cold foods, the culprit could be a cavity. Another cause of this pain and discomfort could be gingivitis, so it’s vital to inspect your kid’s teeth before scheduling a dental visit.
- Dark or White Spots – Teeth usually have pretty uniform coloration, so if you notice any darker or lighter areas, they could be a sign of a cavity.
- Swelling – If your child’s mouth looks puffy or swollen, the cause could be a cavity. However, there can be other causes for swelling (such as a bump against a hard surface), so you should still check the teeth.
- Avoiding Eating – Finally, if your little one doesn’t seem to want to eat as often as they used to, dental problems could be to blame.
What to Do When Your Child Has Cavities
Once you notice cavities forming in the mouth, it’s imperative to take action as quickly as possible. There are a few reasons to step in and treat the cavity immediately. Those reasons include:
- Improper Tooth Development – Baby teeth are supposed to come out when they’re ready, not prematurely. If a cavity spreads and leads to widespread decay, the tooth could fall out (or have to be removed). When that happens, it will reshape the gums, meaning the adult tooth in that spot may not come out correctly. In severe cases, your child may need braces or surgery to fix the problem.
- Widespread Decay – If left untreated, cavities can cause significant decay and damage. Worst of all, as the cavity grows, it will only cause more pain and discomfort.
So, once you discover cavities, it’s imperative to schedule a visit with a pediatric dentist. The dentist can survey the damage and determine the best course of action. Usually, filling the cavity is the best option as it prevents further decay and allows your child to eat and drink normally.
Depending on the number and severity of the cavities, your child may need crowns or replacement teeth. This procedure can be relatively intense, but it’s necessary to ensure proper tooth development as your little one grows up. Without treatment, your child could be looking at a lifetime of pain and discomfort.
Take Care of Pediatric Cavities With Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics
Prevention is the best way to keep your child’s mouth healthy and bright. Our office is designed to make the experience as pleasant as possible for your little one. Whether they’ve developed cavities or just need regular checkups and cleanings, we’re here to help. Schedule an appointment today and see the Ponte Vedra Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontics difference.