Caries Control & Fillings
Caries (cavities) can develop due to a variety of factors, and children are at more of a risk for many of these. Fortunately, there are a variety of steps that can be taken to reduce, or even eliminate, your child's chances of developing cavities.
What Are Caries?
Caries (or cavities) are holes that develop in the enamel and dentin outer layers of a tooth. the enamel is the hard, outermost surface of the tooth, and is a yellow layer just beneath the enamel. These two layers protect the living inner tissue of the tooth.
Causes of Decay
Tooth decay and cavities are the result of bacteria in the mouth that consume simple sugars and convert them into acid plaque (different from the periodontal plaque that causes gum disease). When this acid plaque starts to build up on the teeth, it eats away at the enamel and dentin, resulting in cavities.
The reasons that plaque builds up on the teeth include the following:
- Infrequent or insufficient cleaning
- Dietary issues / sugar
- Teeth alignment issues
When cavities do develop, your child's dentist will clean the decayed area, and apply amalgam (silver) or bonded (white) fillings to fill the hole and protect the tooth from further decay.
Fillings are also sometimes used to repair cracked or chipped teeth.
Fortunately, with a consistent at-home oral health care routine and regular professional cleaning, cavities are mostly preventable. Your Smile Town Dentistry team is always happy to answer any questions you may have about your child's at home cleaning routine, and can give you lots of tips and advice on how to be as thorough as possible.
However, children can be at a higher risk of caries that adults. For one thing, they're still learning and perfecting their brushing and flossing techniques, and they may not be as health conscious when it comes to diet as adults are. Aside from these external issues, their mouths and teeth are still developing, and therefore they're not as resistant to cavities as adults.
For these reasons, sometimes extra precautions and steps must be taken to protect their smiles:
Fluoride occurs naturally in water, soil, and even some foods. It has a positive impact on children's oral health because it makes their developing teeth more resistant to tooth decay. It can even reverse tooth decay that has already begun.
Depending on the amount of fluoride your child takes in from other sources, the dentist may recommend that your child begins a course of fluoride treatment.
Teeth have natural grooves and recesses in their biting surfaces. These areas are often difficult to clean, especially for children, causing food particles and bacteria to collect.
Dental sealants are applied to the grooves and recesses of teeth in order to fill them in, creating a smooth surface that is much easier to clean.
The main dietary culprits when it comes to cavities are sugars and acids. Cavity causing bacteria thrive on sugar, and acids work to soften and erode enamel.
For this reason, most dentists recommend a diet low in sugars and acidic foods to help prevent cavities.
Misaligned, uneven teeth are much harder to clean than straight teeth, and they are also most susceptible to damage. For these reasons, your child's dentist may recommend early preventative orthodontic treatment to help prevent cavities. > Learn More
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