In an ideal world, your child will visit our Lower Manhattan pediatric dental office every six months. During those visits, our staff will screen for normal dental development and check for cavities. In that ideal world, your child won’t have any cavities.
Unfortunately, this isn’t reality. The majority of children will have at least one cavity during their childhood. This is influenced by DNA, access to foods and beverages that contain sugar (which combines with oral bacteria to cause cavities), as well as brushing and flossing routines. Certain medications can influence cavity development as well, such as antihistamines (which limit saliva flow) and sweet medications such as cough syrup.
Although your child’s “baby teeth” aren’t permanent, it’s important to keep those teeth healthy. Losing baby teeth prematurely can disrupt the normal alignment of your child’s teeth and even impair speech development. That’s why we recommend that you start bringing your child to our pediatric dental office when he or she is around a year old. Catching any concerns early on is always a good thing!
So, let’s say that on your next visit we find a cavity in your child’s mouth. What’s the procedure? It may surprise you to know that it’s not always the “drill and fill” method you remember from your childhood. We now have advanced technologies that enable us to treat small problems early and without discomfort to your child.
Treating Small Cavities
Sometimes, if a cavity is very small, we may decide to employ the “wait and see” method of treatment. This enables us to determine whether the cavity is developing. Much depends on the child’s age—the youngest may not sit in the dental chair without difficulty, and the older child may not need a filling if it’s in a tooth that’s soon to be gone.
Another method in a small cavity is to brush the area with silver diamine fluoride (SDF). It requires no drilling or anesthesia of any kind.
When we see cavities in a child’s tooth, our first response is to discuss the alternatives with the parents to arrive at a mutually satisfactory decision.
Treating Larger Cavities
If your child’s cavity is large, in a baby tooth that isn’t going to fall out in a reasonable period of time, or in a permanent tooth, the decision may be to drill out the portion of decay and fill with a resin. Nitrous oxide can be used to calm the child during this procedure, making the child relaxed but awake.
Even with your best efforts, your child may get a dental cavity. Rest assured that our Lower Manhattan pediatric dental staff will give your child the very best care with the least discomfort. If we haven’t seen your child in the past six months, please call our office at 212-267-0029 to schedule your child’s pediatric dental appointment.