Tooth decay is one of the most common chronic conditions affecting children in the United States. Enforcing your child’s oral care routine teaches them good hygiene practices and keeps their teeth strong and healthy. Additionally, inspecting their teeth and gums regularly is a practical way to spot signs of a cavity.
Early treatment from your child’s pediatric dentist can stop pain or discomfort and save teeth that are in the early stage of decay.
Warning Signs of a Cavity
Children’s teeth have a thinner enamel covering that makes them more prone to decay from plaque and tartar buildup. Your child may appear fussy or lethargic due to pain and discomfort but might be unable to complain of a toothache. You can take the initiative to check for these visible signs and symptoms of cavities that shouldn’t be ignored:
- White or dark spots on the teeth
- Pits or holes in the teeth
- Holding of the face or jaw
- Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods
- Lack of interest in food
- Swollen or irritated gum
How Untreated Cavities Can Affect Your Child
Cavities not only cause tooth pain but can also lead to painful infections or gum disease. As a result, your child may have trouble eating or speaking or difficulties focusing on learning. Toothaches have been shown to result in missed school days and lower academic grades.
Protecting Your Child’s Teeth from Decay
Tooth decay is a preventable condition. The oral routine for promoting a healthy smile and minimizing the risk of cavities will depend on your child’s age.
- For babies and toddlers under 2: Clean your child’s gum twice a day with a soft clean cloth to remove bacteria and sugars. Once the first tooth comes in, brush twice daily with a small soft-bristled toothbrush and plain water.
- For children aged 2 and older: Brush their teeth twice daily with a pea-sized amount of fluoride toothpaste and rinse with fluoridated water. Avoiding sweet or sugary foods and drinks, e.g., candy or soda, also keeps cavity-causing bacteria and tartar off their teeth.
Benefits of Preventative Dental Checkups
Preventative dental care provides a strong defense against cavities and protects against mouth infections that may affect your child’s overall health. Your child should have their initial pediatric dental checkup once the first tooth comes in and at least twice a year afterward. The dentist will check the health of your child’s teeth and may provide the following treatments to stop and prevent caries:
- Fluoride varnish: Applying fluoride varnish treatment after your child’s first tooth arrives strengthens the tooth enamel. The safe and painless treatment reduces the chance of cavities or prevents them from getting worse.
- Dental sealants: The dentist can apply dental sealants on the chewing surfaces of the back teeth in children older than 2. Sealants prevent 80% of cavities in the permanent molars.
- Tooth fillings: Composite filling is used to fill the hole in the tooth enamel and prevent further decay.
A root canal, onlay, or replacement crown may be needed in severe cases of decay to save the tooth.
Preserve Your Child’s Smile at Our Pediatric Dentistry
Routine visits to our pediatric dentist play a major role in promoting your child’s oral and physical health. We have many years of expertise in using safe child-friendly treatments and procedures to maintain healthy, brilliant smiles. Bring your child and all your questions to Orange County Pediatric Dentistry. We will help you lay the foundation for your child’s lifelong oral health.