Dental caries (cavities) can occur in baby teeth just as easily as in adult teeth. Here, our Calgary dentists explain what caries treatment will look like for toddlers, and why it is so important.
What are caries?
Caries are holes in the surface of teeth that are the result of tooth decay. They can happen to children and adults of any age.
How are caries treated in toddlers?
Caries treatment for toddlers is not unlike caries treatment for adults.
Most of the time, the first step in the caries treatment process will involve the removal of the decayed portion of the tooth. Once the decay has been cleaned away, the hole left behind will be filled with a dental filling.
Fillings are dental materials that are placed in teeth to repair caries. Broadly speaking, there are two types of fillings:
Direct fillings can be placed directly into a prepared hole in a single visit to the dentist’s office. These fillings may be made out of silver, fine glass powders, acrylic acids, or resin.
Indirect restorations usually require two visits to the dentist, because they must be created outside of the mouth first before they can be placed. The most common indirect restorations in children are inlays and onlays.
Baby teeth fall out anyway… does my toddler really need fillings?
While baby teeth are not permanent, they play an important role in children’s healthy development.
They help children chew and digest their food properly, thereby helping ensure they get all the nutrients they need.
In addition, they act as placeholders for the permanent teeth, and guide them into the proper positions as they grow in.
Taking good care of baby teeth is essential, because if they fall out early, it could lead to a variety of problems, including misaligned teeth, poor digestion, and speech problems.
Preparing Your Toddler
If your toddler needs a filling, it can help make the process go more smoothly if you prepare them for it a little ahead of time.
When you talk to your child about the upcoming appointment, remain calm and positive. Be honest about the procedure and answer questions, but only provide the most basic information.
Kid-friendly terms like “sugar bugs” instead of bacteria, “sugar spot” instead of cavity, and “poke” instead of needle can help prevent your child from becoming alarmed.
For some children, it can help to bring a comfort item (like a blanket or a favourite stuffed animal) along to the appointment to hold on to during the procedure.