Alpharetta, GA – Early childhood caries, or tooth decay that causes cavities, is the number one chronic childhood disease today. That means chances are pretty good that at some point during your child’s early years, your pediatric dentist may tell you your child has a cavity.
If you are worried your child may have a cavity, it’s important that you know what to look for, and then how to handle it.
“The first thing to look for are chalky white spots on your child’s teeth,” says Dr. Nanna Ariaban, an Alpharetta children’s dentist.
“These white spots may seem harmless to you, but to the trained eye of a dentist, these are worrisome. These are the first signs of decay, and over time, the white spots can become brown, and eventually turn into a cavity.”
If your child complains of sensitivity or pain when brushing, eating or drinking, that is also an indication there may be decay.
It’s important to schedule an appointment with your child’s dentist as soon as you believe there may be a problem. If decay is caught in early enough stages, preventive measures such as fluoride treatment may be able to stop the decay before it turns into a cavity.
If the decay has progressed, however, a filling will be required. Your dentist will speak with you and your child about what to expect. Depending on the child’s age and anxiety level, your dentist will recommend the best sedative to use during the procedure.
“Some children may only require nitrous oxide to help reduce anxiety, and help with pain relief,” says Dr. Nanna. “Other children may require an oral sedative that will make them feel sleepy, allowing the dentist to fill the cavity without any fear or anxiety. Your kids’ dentist will recommend the sedation method that is ideal for your child, but always be sure to ask any questions you may have.”
Leading up to your child’s appointment, parents can help ensure the child knows what to expect and feels comfortable.
Explain that their tooth is “sick” and the dentist is going to make it healthy again. You can explain there may be strange sounds or sensations, but that the dentist is working to make sure the tooth is strong and healthy again.
“Make sure you use language that won’t scare your child,” says Dr. Nanna. “We want children to feel safe and comfortable in our dental chair, so we are always happy to walk them through what we’ll do, showing them the tools we’ll use and explaining any sounds they may hear.”
After the cavity is filled, your child will still have numbness in the area where the cavity was filled. Depending on the level of sedation used, your child may also still feel sleepy for a short period of time after.
“It’s important to watch your child after the procedure, and pay close attention to keep him or her from biting the inside of their mouth,” says Dr. Nanna.
“Because the mouth will be numb, your child won’t be able to feel if he is biting the inside of his mouth, which can lead to sores in the mouth. Keep an eye out to make sure this doesn’t happen.”
Dr. Nanna and her staff work hard to ensure children’s smiles stay healthy, and that includes not just filling cavities, but educating patients on preventive measures that can stave off cavities. It is important that children brush and floss daily, using a fluoride toothpaste, and that they maintain regular appointments with a dentist. Ensure your child eats a healthy diet rich in vitamins and minerals, and avoid too much sugar.
Parents can help children develop good oral hygiene habits and avoid cavities by modeling good oral care for them. If your children see you making your oral care a priority, they will want to follow suit.
Be sure you help younger children brush their teeth, especially the hard to reach areas. Eighty-eight percent of cavities form in the back chewing surfaces of teeth that can be harder for little hands to properly brush. For an extra layer of protection, you can ask your pediatric dentist about the benefits of dental sealants to help prevent against bacteria and decay.
At the first sign of tooth pain or decay, it is important to schedule an appointment with your child’s dentist to prevent a more serious problem from occurring.
© 2019 Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry. Authorization to post is granted, with the stipulation that Polkadot Pediatric Dentistry, an Alpharetta dentist, is credited as sole source.