If there’s one thing many of us associate with dental health, it’s avoiding cavities. Whether it’s your or your child’s teeth, you want to do everything you can to keep them out of your life.
Most people consider it a good check-up at the dentist if there are no cavities. If you reduce your or your child’s sugar intake, preventing cavities is one of the top reasons. And if you encourage good oral hygiene in your kid, it’s to avoid cavities and toothaches.
But what if cavities do develop? If there are noticeable signs of a cavity, is there any way to get rid of them? To answer these questions, it’s important to know what cavities are and how they are caused by tooth decay. The following information can help you prevent and treat cavities while taking an active and informed role in your child’s early dental care.
What is tooth decay?
If you’re worried about cavities, you’re not alone. According to the CDC, significant numbers of children and adolescents deal with cavities in both baby teeth and permanent teeth. As common as they are, many people still ask what a cavity is and how they form.
A cavity, or cary, is a small hole that develops in the teeth. Cavities can happen in permanent adult teeth as well as baby teeth. The primary underlying cause of a cavity is tooth decay.
Tooth decay is caused by the bacteria in your mouth. Some bacteria play a role in keeping your mouth healthy, while other bacteria can be more harmful. Harmful bacteria cling to your teeth, eating the sugars and starches and creating acid as a waste product.
This acid eats away at the protective enamel of the teeth, eventually softening it and allowing it to make a hole in the deeper layers of the tooth. Cavities can start in the dentin, which is the softer tissue immediately under the enamel. If the acid continues to eat down to the pulp, which contains nerve tissue and blood vessels, a toothache or even an infection becomes more likely.
Can you prevent cavities? Do at-home remedies work?
Once a cavity begins to form, it is not reversible unless you get it very early — basically before acid breaks through the enamel. This is why prevention and good oral hygiene is the best way to stop cavities. Specifically, cavity prevention is about depriving the bacteria of their food source.
First, limit sugar and starch intake. For children, this means less sugar snacks, especially juice, milk, or other drinks before bed.
Second, brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day. This removes any food particles from the surface of the teeth or between teeth. Using fluoride toothpaste can help to strengthen the enamel and further prevent cavities.
There are no at-home remedies that can “get rid” of cavities, only measures that can treat the symptoms of a toothache. If you or your child develop a toothache, recommended methods for relieving pain include:
- Over-the-counter medication
- Warm saltwater rinses
- Ice packs around the area
- Peppermint tea
Above all, for any persistent toothache or signs of a cavity, you should see a dentist as soon as possible.
When to See a Dentist for Cavity Treatment
In addition to seeing a dentist for regular check-ups and preventative treatments, schedule an appointment if there are any signs of a cavity. For children, a pediatric dentist can ask questions, perform a thorough evaluation, and take any necessary images to confirm the presence of a cavity and determine how far along it is.
Depending on the severity and size of the cavity, dentists can use the following methods to treat it:
- Dental sealants to reinforce enamel
- Dental fillings to stabilize the tooth and stop the cavity from progressing
- Root canal to save a severely damaged or infected tooth
- Baby tooth removal to extract a damaged baby tooth that is causing severe pain or disrupting oral health
Ultimately, cavity treatment for children should go hand-in-hand with prevention of future cavities. By developing good habits and seeing the dentist regularly, you can get rid of cavities before they even form. Your dentist can help with preventive measures like fluoride treatment and instructions on proper brushing and flossing techniques.
Keep Your Family’s Teeth Healthy with the Help of AC Pediatric Dentistry
Going to the dentist can be scary — we get it. But it should be fun! Whether it’s care for baby teeth, big kid teeth, oral surgery, or orthodontics, our team of specialized pediatric dentists make the experience memorable while teaching you how to encourage healthy habits and good hygiene for lifelong smiles. Call us today or request an appointment online. We can’t wait to meet you!