Cavities & Caries
It’s the word no parent wants to hear, but many do: cavities. Also known as dental caries, they’re one of the most common problems children have with their teeth, so it’s important to be informed about what they are, why they happen, and how to treat them. If your child has dental caries, look to the True Dental Care for treatment.
Children usually start getting their primary (or baby) teeth around six months of age. The primary teeth start to fall out to make way for the permanent teeth when kids reach about age five or six, although the last of them don’t fall out until around age 12. In all, your child starts with 20 primary teeth, but will have 32 permanent teeth after adolescence.
That’s a lot of chances for dental caries to form, and the numbers don’t lie:
- 28% of kids aged two to five years old get cavities in their primary teeth.
- 51% of kids aged six to 11 get cavities in their primary teeth.
- 10% of kids aged six to eight get cavities in their permanent teeth.
- 31% of kids between nine and 11 get cavities in their permanent teeth.
How Did That Get There?
Your children’s mouths are full of bacteria, and it’s not just because of all the weird things they put in there all day. Some of the bacteria are actually helpful. Some, though, can lead to painful and unsightly cavities in children. Just ask the Jersey City best kids dentist Dr. Mila Cohen of True Dental Care for Kids & Teens.
When your child eats food with starch or sugar — even naturally occurring sugars, such as those in fruit — some of the bacteria in his mouth combine with the sugars to create acid. That acid starts to eat away at the hard enamel on the surface of the teeth. If those acids aren’t washed away and kept away, they’ll keep breaking down the enamel until a hole forms, and that’s the cavity. The tooth is decaying, and that’s never fun.
Dental caries can spread from one tooth to the next as the decay creeps along the enamel, especially when food stays stuck to the teeth or trapped in between. Get your kids to brush twice a day and floss at least once.[pgcallout]
An Ounce of Prevention
Cavities and decay may be common problems, but there are steps you can take to prevent them:
- Start dental care early. Around age six months, schedule your child’s first visit with the best kids dentist in Jersey City. Establishing a relationship early with a dentist ensures that your child gets top-quality care throughout childhood. Continue to see the dentist every six months for a check-up and professional cleaning.
- Before the first teeth erupt, start cleaning your child’s gums with a soft cloth dampened with plain water. This helps keep the mouth clean, and has the bonus of helping sore gums feel better when baby teeth are starting to come in.
- Clean your child’s teeth at least twice a day. Use a soft toothbrush and just a tiny smear of toothpaste when he’s a toddler. Increase the amount of toothpaste to a pea-sized dollop when he’s around school age. Be sure to brush all the surfaces of the teeth: front, back, sides and top.
- Even after your child can brush independently, make sure to watch him periodically to make sure he’s cleaning his teeth thoroughly and not missing any teeth with the toothbrush. Many kids need help reaching their back teeth well into childhood. It’s okay to help — it doesn’t take away from his independence, it teaches him proper technique and it ensures his mouth stays healthy.
- Teach your child to brush for at least a minute. Two minutes is even better. Some toothbrushes have music or flashing lights to indicate how long to keep brushing. A simple hourglass timer works well, too.
- Limit sugary snacks and drinks. Instead, offer plenty of healthy alternatives such as fresh vegetables, whole grains and water. Even though your child is brushing twice a day, add an extra brushing when possible, such as right after he eats anything sugary or starchy.
- Don’t put your baby to bed with a bottle. Even breast milk can lead to “bottle tooth decay,” which occurs when liquid pools against a child’s teeth as a result of having a bottle left in his mouth while he’s not actively sucking.
- Ask your dentist about BPA Free sealants, which coat the surface of the teeth to prevent bacteria from attacking the enamel and causing cavities in children. The best child dentist in Jersey City can explain the benefits of using sealants.
- Help your child floss every day to keep food from causing decay in the tight spaces between the teeth.
If your child ends up with dental caries, don’t wait to get them taken care of. As long as you maintain regular dentist visits for your kids, your dentist can catch cavities early. If your child complains of tooth pain or sensitivity, or you notice what looks like a hole or discoloration on one of his teeth, make an appointment with the dentist to get it checked out.
Nearly all cavities can be repaired with a simple filling. When your child needs a filling, the best child dentist in Jersey City:
- Makes your child comfortable and relaxed
- Numbs the area so that your child doesn’t feel any pain
- Cleans out the decay from the tooth
- Prepares it for the filling, a tooth-colored material used to fill the cavity
- Uses a special light to harden the filling material
Getting a filling doesn’t usually take long, and your dentist is able to do more than one during a single appointment, depending on the severity of the decay. Afterward, your child will feel numb for a short period, during which he’ll need to refrain from eating. Feed your child soft foods for a while and keep very hot or cold liquids away from him. If he feels pain or discomfort as the anesthesia wears off, an over-the-counter pain reliever usually helps.
Occasionally, cavities in children can progress to the point that they need more extensive treatment, such as a pulputomy or a pulpectomy. This is similar to a root canal, where the decayed pulp is removed from inside the tooth, and a crown is placed over the entire tooth to prevent further damage. Ask the best dentist in Jersey City what’s best for your child’s teeth.