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My Toddler Has a Cavity...Should it be Filled?

Cavities are caused by a breakdown of the tooth enamel, which is the hard outer surface of the tooth. Children can get cavities in their baby teeth if they do not practice proper oral hygiene and consume sugary foods and beverages on a frequent basis.

Is Filling a Cavity Necessary?

Some parents may think that since a baby tooth will fall out eventually, it's not necessary to have it filled. This is not the case, however. A child does not lose all of their baby teeth until the age of 12 or 13. If a cavity is not filled, it can lead to some serious consequences, such as:

  • Pain


  • Infection or tooth abscess


  • Spread of infection to surrounding teeth


  • Difficulty chewing


  • Speech delays


  • Improper positioning of adult teeth


  • Overbites


  • Tooth loss


How to Comfortably Treat a Child's Cavity

Going to the dentist can cause anxiety for anyone, but children may have a particularly difficult time. Sitting still long enough for a cavity to be filled can be a challenge for young patients. Sedation dentistry is a great solution for those that may be nervous about going to the dentist. There are several types of sedation dentistry, including:

  • Nitrous Oxide- this helps a patient relax during their treatment, while remaining conscious and aware.


  • Oral Conscious Sedation- an oral sedative is taken to help a patient relax for their procedure. They remain awake but without any fear or discomfort.


  • IV Sedation Dentistry- medication is administered intravenously by a dental anesthesiologist to provide quick, pain-free sedation.


Preventing More Cavities

The best way to prevent tooth decay is by practicing good oral hygiene and maintaining regular dental checkups. Children also need fluoride, which can be found in most water supplies, children's toothpaste, and mouthwash. Other ways to prevent cavities include:

  • Brushing for two minutes twice a day.


  • Flossing once per day.


  • Avoiding foods that are sticky and high in sugar such as candy and cookies.


  • Preventing the spread of bacteria by not sharing cups or utensils.


  • No juice or milk before bed, especially if your child uses a bottle.


Once a child is school-aged, sealants can be placed on the teeth to help prevent cavities. A protective coating is applied to the back teeth which helps prevent erosion of the tooth enamel from plaque and acid. Child cavities are not only treatable, but also preventable if the proper steps are taken.


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