Almost everyone will develop a cavity at some point in their lifetime and will have questions about them. Gentle Dental Center knows that being told your child has a cavity can cause you to look for information and answers that may not be quite right. Providing answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about cavities will help you and your child have a beautiful, healthy smile for years to come.
I have cavities. Does that mean my child will also have them?
Teeth hardness and softness are genetic dispositions; some types of teeth are more prone to cavities than others. However, while discoloration and tooth strength are genetic, cavities are not. Sharing food and drink with your child can pass cavity bacteria on to your child. Just like other diseases, cavity germs pass through saliva. While we all know to avoid sharing a cup when sick, it’s easy to forget that the same rule applies when our teeth are sick.
Aren’t cavities a part of childhood?
While the CDC reports that, “19% of children ages 2-19 have untreated cavities,” easy access to sugary beverages and snacks allows cavities an easy path into teeth. Drinks such as soda, juice, and chocolate milk leave sugar sitting on teeth and bacteria feeding off the sugar–which in turn leaves a layer of acid on teeth. Regular snacking also contributes to cavity development because the mouth’s natural cleaning system, saliva, doesn’t have time to do its job.
How can I prevent cavities in my and my child’s teeth?
Routine dental cleanings, regular fluoride use, daily flossing and brushing, and monitoring your child’s nutrition can all give your child’s teeth a fighting chance. Avoid passing cavity germs by not sharing drinks or utensils, and think twice before sharing that toothbrush. (Just don’t.) Transition your toddler from bottles to cups as soon as possible, and offer water to the child eyeing a soda or juice box.
I suspect I developed a cavity. What do I do?
Cavities are a war, not a battle. Regular check ups and cleanings allow dentists to diagnose cavities early and minimize the number that appear. Much of dental care is prevention, and sometimes prevention looks like one treated cavity versus ten untreated cavities. After the dentist visit, remember to floss and brush–at least twice a day!
How will the dentist treat the cavity?
Once a dentist diagnoses a cavity, she might elect to watch the cavity, fill it, or cap the tooth. “Watching” simply means that the dentist monitors a minor cavity, per implementation of proper flossing and brushing protocols. “Fillings” in children are usually a mixture of white plastic and composite resin poured into cavity, evening out the tooth once more. In adults, filling a cavity may require slightly more invasive drilling techniques to be sure the entire cavity is removed before filling the space left with a composite or metal material. A “cap” requires placing a crown on the tooth, protecting it from future cavities. Crowns are only used in the most extreme cavities.
At Gentle Dental Center, our goal is to make every patient comfortable during dental treatment. While having a cavity can be nerve wracking, treating it doesn’t have to be! Schedule your bi-annual preventive care appointment at (757) 431-1300.