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What to Do When Your Child Has a Cavity

It’s a moment that happens to many parents - you’re helping your child to brush their teeth or floss, and you spot it: that white spot on one of your child’s teeth, which is one of the earliest signs of a cavity forming. Or, your child may be complaining about a toothache, pain around their gums, or tooth sensitivity to hot or cold food. 

All of these are surefire signs that your child could use a trip to the dentist to see if they have a cavity. Research shows that 43 percent of children between the ages of 2 and 19 years old will have a cavity at some time, and they’re an easy fix at the dentist’s office. 

Cavities are caused by a buildup of plaque, which can happen if brushing hasn’t been as diligent. Say, for example, your child enjoys a bowl of ice cream before bed, and then forgets to brush their teeth. Overnight, the sugar from the ice cream can begin to erode their teeth. While forgetting to brush just a handful of times usually won’t result in a cavity, making it a habit can lead to opportunities for the bacteria from food and other debris to create the tooth decay that we call a cavity

Cavity Filling Process

At the office, the dentist will first check to see if what is suspected to be a cavity is, indeed, a cavity. This is done by using a dental probe to see if the white or black spots on the teeth are ‘sticky,’ which indicates decay. 

If the dentist confirms that it’s a cavity, the filling process is straightforward and similar to fillings you may have had yourself. First, the dentist will remove the decayed matter left in your child’s baby teeth (or adult teeth, depending on their age and if they’ve grown in yet.) Then, a filling will be put into the hole. 

This entire procedure should take less than an hour - and even as little as 20 minutes for small cavities. 

Checking in on Dental Hygiene

Cavities are also great learning opportunities to assess dental hygiene, brushing and flossing protocols, and to remind your child of how important it is to upkeep these good habits. It’s important for your child to understand the connection between cavities and their oral health. Your dentist will usually have a conversation with your child to help them with this understanding, but we also recommend that you help to create a habit around teeth brushing - ideally, twice a day (in the morning and at night). 

Getting fluoride and flossing into this regimen can only help keep your child’s teeth happy and healthy so they can avoid future trips to the dentist for fillings. If you believe your child has a cavity, contact our office nearest you to schedule a visit.

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