Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry

Understanding and Preventing Dental Cavities in Kids and Adults

Understanding and Preventing Dental Cavities in Kids and Adults

Reviewed by Dr. Henry Martinez, DMD

Cavities, or dental caries, are a common oral health problem affecting both children and adults. However, early detection and treatment can prevent complications and ensure a healthy and happy smile. 

In this blog post, we will explore what cavities are and what causes them, as well as cavity treatment options for kids.

What Are Cavities and What Causes Them?

Many people ask: Is it my fault my kid has cavities? To answer this question, lets take a look at what cavities are and what causes them. 

Cavities are small holes that develop in the outer layer of the tooth called the enamel. They occur when food particles, particularly those that contain sugar, react with the bacteria in the mouth, creating acids that break down the enamel. This process is worsened by poor dental hygiene and eating a lot of sugary foods.

Children are particularly susceptible to cavities as they eat more sweets and don’t always brush their teeth properly. 

Facts About Cavities 

  • Cavities start small and gradually get bigger. You might not notice any symptoms at first, but as the cavity grows, it can cause a toothache, sensitivity to hot and cold, and visible holes or pits in your teeth.
  • If left untreated, cavities can lead to serious dental problems, including tooth abscess, damage to the inner layer of the tooth and even tooth loss.
  • To prevent cavities, brush twice a day, floss, and schedule regular visits to the dentist. 
  • Dental sealants are a protective coating that can be placed on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth to prevent cavities in children and teenagers.
  • Fluoride, a natural mineral that can be found in water and some foods, is a crucial component of cavity prevention. It can help repair the early stages of tooth decay and strengthen your teeth.

Cavity Treatment Options

Dental fillings are the most common treatment for early-stage cavities. This involves removing the decayed tooth material and filling the hole with a material like composite resin, porcelain or silver amalgam. If the cavity has reached the inner layer of the tooth, a root canal may be necessary to remove the decay and save the tooth. In severe cases, extraction might be the only option. 

Dental Fillings

These fillings are used to seal cavities, preventing decay and potential tooth loss. They are a reliable solution for maintaining good oral health. We offer two kinds of dental fillings:

  • Composite fillings made from a durable blend of resin and glass, can match your child’s tooth shade perfectly, making them almost invisible in the mouth. They work well for both front and back teeth. 
  • Porcelain fillings match front teeth’s natural color and are commonly used to replace old amalgam fillings.

Dental Filling Procedure

When your child needs a dental filling, we make sure they’re comfortable through the entire process. First, we’ll use a local anesthetic to numb the area around the tooth, so there’s no discomfort during treatment. If extra relaxation is needed, like nitrous oxide or oral sedation, Dr. Martinez will chat with you about the best options for your child.

Once the area’s numb and your child’s feeling at ease, we get to work cleaning up the problem area. Then, we fill the cavity with composite resin, shaping and polishing it to match your child’s natural teeth.

Preventing Cavities in Children

Prevention is undoubtedly the best way to keep cavities at bay and maintain optimal oral health in children. Parents can take preventative measures to protect their child’s teeth from cavities. For more information, read 5 Oral Hygiene Habits For Kids

Here are a few recommendations that have proven to be highly effective:

  • Brush teeth twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste. Children under the age of 3 should use a rice-grain-sized amount of toothpaste, while children between the ages of 3-6 should use a pea-sized amount.
  • Floss between teeth once a day, as soon as the child’s teeth begin touching each other.
  • Limit sugary snacks and beverages, opting for healthier alternatives.
  • Schedule regular dental appointments for check-ups and cleanings, beginning no later than the child’s first birthday.
  • Apply dental sealants – a thin coating painted on the tooth that prevents cavities from forming.

Kids’ Dentist in Phoenix, AZ

Choosing a qualified and experienced pediatric dentist is paramount to providing your child with the best dental care. If you’re looking for a pediatric dentist in Phoenix, AZ, Big Apple Pediatric Dentistry is here to help. Dr. Henry Martinez and his team specialize in providing comprehensive and compassionate care for children of all ages.

Get in touch with us today to schedule an appointment and ensure a safe and enjoyable dental experience for your little one. Call (602) 935-7427 to book an appointment or complete the online booking form

Frequently Asked Questions

Do Children’s Cavities Need To Be Filled?

Yes, children’s cavities typically need to be filled. Dental fillings are commonly used to treat cavities in children to prevent further decay and maintain oral health. It is important to consult with a dentist to determine the best treatment plan.

Can Cavities Go Away?

While it is possible for cavities to reverse if detected early, it is important to note that they typically do not heal on their own. Without treatment, cavities will continue to grow and worsen over time. Therefore, it is crucial to seek dental care as soon as a cavity is detected to prevent further damage and complications.

Does Filling a Cavity Hurt?

Filling a cavity is usually painless. With your child under sedation, the dentist will numb the area with local anesthetic. Some may experience minor sensitivity or discomfort after the procedure, but it usually goes away within a few days. Communicate any concerns to your dentist for a pain-free experience.