The only way to be sure a child needs a tooth filling is to take your child to the dentist for confirmation of a cavity. However, you may suspect your child needs dental treatment if they complain of a toothache or tooth sensitivity. You may find dark spots on a tooth. Your child may begin avoiding food. Very young children may become fussy. In other cases, your child may have no symptoms of tooth decay, and you may be surprised when your pediatric dentist informs you that your child needs a filling. Read on for everything to know about kids, cavities, and dental fillings.
What Causes Cavities in Children’s Teeth?
Children develop cavities in their teeth for the same reasons adults develop cavities. The culprit is always bacteria. When the bacteria mixes with food, acid, and saliva, it creates plaque, a sticky substance that accumulates on the teeth, leading to tooth decay.
To prevent this plaque build-up, children must brush their teeth for a full two minutes twice a day. They also need to floss once a day. Failing to brush or floss thoroughly is a leading cause of cavities in kids. It should also be noted that a diet high in carbohydrates (sugar) can increase the amount of plaque buildup, increasing the likelihood that a child will develop cavities.
However, even kids with excellent brushing and flossing techniques and habits still need regular dental cleanings. This is because even excellent oral hygiene at home isn’t sufficient to remove all the plaque on teeth. To remove stubborn plaque, children need to have their teeth professionally cleaned by their dentist every six months.
There is also a growing body of evidence that suggests that some children and adults may be genetically predisposed to develop cavities due to inheriting softer enamel on the teeth. So, your child’s diet, brushing, and flossing habits are not necessarily to blame for the development of cavities.
Dental Fillings for Kids: What to Expect
If your dentist informs you that your child has a cavity, you may need to schedule a second appointment to have the cavities filled. But in many cases, a single cavity can be filled during your child’s regular cleaning appointment.
Dental fillings will not alter your child’s smile. Although older generations may remember having visible silver fillings, today’s fillings are made of tooth-colored composite that is virtually invisible.
If your child is fearful or has trouble following instructions, the dentist may recommend sedation dentistry options such as nitrous oxide. Known to most people as laughing gas, nitrous oxide is a fast-acting gas that is inhaled through a small mask placed over the nose. Nitrous oxide is simply nitrogen mixed with oxygen to produce a calming effect.
The dentist will also need to anesthetize the area around the tooth or teeth to be filled. Using the innovative Single Tooth Anesthesia™ System allows your pediatric dentist to deliver painless anesthesia to a single tooth rather than numbing an entire region.
Once the tooth is completely numb, your dentist will remove decay from the tooth before filling the cavity with tooth-colored composite. The entire procedure generally takes less than 30 minutes. However, if multiple teeth need fillings, it can take longer. If your child has several cavities, a follow-up appointment may be necessary to treat all teeth.
After the tooth is filled, any pain your child was experiencing should resolve quickly. The effects of laughing gas also wear off within just minutes of removing the mask.
Schedule Your Child’s Dental Check-Up and Cleaning in Orange County, NY
Orange County Pediatric Dentistry (OCPD) provides comprehensive pediatric dental care for infants, toddlers, children, tweens, and teens. Located in Monroe, NY, we are just minutes from Woodbury, Goshen, Chester, Middletown, and Florida, NY. Request a dental exam and cleaning online or call 845-928-2206 .