Cavities are more common than you might think. The National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research found that 42% of children ages six to eleven have had cavities in their primary teeth, also called baby teeth. A cavity can develop anywhere on the tooth, including between the teeth.
Fortunately, dentists are the professionals for how to fix cavities between teeth. At Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental, we have effective treatments for cavities between teeth to help care for your child’s dental health.
What are Cavities?
Cavities are caused when foods — most commonly, foods high in sugar and starches — stick to the tooth’s enamel. These foods interact with the bacteria in the mouth and form acid, which then eats away at the tooth’s enamel, leaving behind a small hole, or cavity.
Though quite common, cavities should not go unaddressed. Leaving a cavity untreated can let it get bigger, which can cause nerve pain or even fracture one of your child’s teeth. In the worst cases, the infection can enter the tooth and spread into the pulp, and a root canal or extraction may be required.
These issues get even more complicated when the cavities are between teeth, where space is tight. Your local dentist can advise you on how best to treat cavities between teeth for your particular child’s case, but the prevention practices below are an excellent starting point.
Of course, the best treatment for cavities between teeth is prevention. Healthy oral habits are essential to keeping plaque from building and cavities from forming.
Instruct your child on the proper way to brush their teeth, doing so twice a day for a solid two minutes each time. If your child fusses about this or tries to avoid it, there are several strategies you can employ to encourage your child to enjoy it. You can try playing a song, using an app, utilizing your child’s favorite character (like one from Sesame Street), and more.
Building Good Habits
Your child should also be flossing once a day. There are many online tutorials for how best to teach your child proper flossing techniques so they can learn how to use this tool effectively. It’s especially important to start flossing when your child’s teeth are too close together for the brush to fit between.
Once your child is old enough, you can also introduce a daily mouthwash regimen. Be sure your child understands the correct way to use mouthwash, and doubly sure that they won’t swallow it. It’s important to convey to your child that mouthwash is not a substitute for flossing, but rather a finishing touch that can help keep their mouths clean. Regular flossing and mouthwash are some of the best ways for how to prevent cavities between teeth because they can reach places that your child’s toothbrush cannot.
Another essential component of cavity prevention is healthy dietary habits. Excessively sugary foods or beverages can increase the amount of sugar left behind on your child’s enamel, and thus increase their likelihood for cavities. Try to keep sugary food and drink limited to treats or special occasions only, rather than a daily affair.
Dental Treatments for Cavities Between Teeth
Sometimes, even the most diligent brushers and flossers will get cavities. During your child’s regular six-month checkups, your dentist may discover a cavity and discuss how to fix it if it’s between your child’s teeth.
These specific cavities, called interproximal cavities, are not difficult to fix. Your dentist might recommend one of the following options:
- If the cavity only extends halfway into the enamel, it’s possible for it to be fixed with recalcification using a fluoride gel.
- Other cavities can be fixed with a composite filling (the most common treatment).
- If the cavity is severe, pupal therapy (a root canal) and a crown may be required.
- Lastly, if the cavity is too severe for any of the above treatments, the dentist may extract the tooth.
As composite fillings are the most common way to fix cavities between teeth, let’s take a closer look at that process.
On the day of your child’s appointment, they will be administered a local anesthetic to the gums around the tooth containing the cavity. If your child is anxious or has trouble sitting still for long periods, your dentist may recommend sedation before the procedure. The most common form of sedation is nitrous oxide, or laughing gas, and this simply relaxes your child so they stay calm and still.
Once your child is soothed and ready, the dentist will clean out the area of their tooth thoroughly, removing all traces of decay. After the area is clean, the dentist will apply a composite material to the site, completely covering the cavity. The composite is sealed immediately with a UV light, bonding it to their tooth enamel.
As the composite is tooth-colored, the finished result is practically invisible. And that’s all there is to how to fix cavities between teeth!
Most children experience little or no pain during their treatment for their cavity between their teeth; however, once the numbing agent wears off, pain may occur. Utilize cold compresses or children’s pain medicine as needed, and take care that the child doesn’t bite or scratch the numb area of their face until feeling returns.
Come See us at Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dentistry
Those twice-yearly, regularly scheduled checkups we mentioned are essential for catching and fixing interproximal cavities. Come see our cheerful, professional staff at any of our locations in the region of northern Nevada, including Reno. We speak Spanish fluently for your convenience, and can’t wait to welcome your child to our dentistry family.