You’re brushing your child’s teeth when you notice some spots or discoloration. Is it possible for your 3-year-old to have tooth decay? Unfortunately, yes. The CDC estimates that about 20% of children will have tooth decay before they turn 11 years old.
While tooth decay sounds scary, it is treatable. Keep reading to learn how to help your child with this common dental issue.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Before digging into toddler tooth decay treatments, it’s important to know what decay is and how it forms. Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in your child’s mouth mixes with the food or drink they consume. This mixture becomes plaque, a sticky substance that adheres to the enamel.
The plaque is acidic, so it slowly eats away at the tooth enamel until it forms a cavity. If your 3-year-old’s tooth decay is caught early, it can easily be treated. If left unchecked, it can result in serious dental issues that might require a root canal or even extraction of the tooth.
Signs of Tooth Decay
How do you know if your toddler needs tooth decay treatment? It’s important to know what to look for to determine if decay is the problem. If you see spots on your child’s teeth that don’t go away with brushing or pits or holes in their teeth, these are signs of decay.
Your child may also be hesitant to eat and express tooth pain or sensitivity. There may be swelling around the mouth or gums. Your child’s dentist may also spot decay during their twice-yearly check-ups.
That’s partly why cleanings at the dentist are so important. They have a unique perspective and the skills to spot decay early and treat it.
Toddler Tooth Decay Treatments
Hopefully, your 3-year-old’s tooth decay gets caught fairly early. If this is the case, your dentist can usually fix the issue with a filling.
A dental filling is a procedure where your child’s dentist will remove the bacteria and plaque and thoroughly clean the cavity. They then fill the cavity with a composite resin that hardens into place and seals it. This helps prevent further infection.
If the decay has reached the inner pulp of the tooth, your toddler’s tooth decay treatment will likely need pupal therapy. The dentist will need to remove the infected portion of the tooth pulp. They then fill the hole with a medicated material and seal it up.
For extreme decay, tooth extraction may be required. Because baby teeth are so important to adult teeth formation, your dentist should only suggest this if there is no other way to save the tooth. If possible, it’s best not to let your 3-year-old’s tooth decay progress this far.
Of course, the best toddler tooth decay treatment is prevention. To help prevent cavities, it’s essential that you start proper oral hygiene habits early. These habits include:
- Brushing their teeth twice daily, for a full two minutes, with a fluoride-infused toothpaste.
- If teeth are particularly close together, consider gently flossing your child’s teeth for them.
- Avoid sugary foods and prioritize a healthful diet.
- Make and keep two appointments with your dentist every year for deep cleanings and inspections.
Model these habits for your little one so they grow up with beautiful, healthy smiles.
Contact Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental
If you need help with toddler tooth decay treatments and live in the area of Reno, Nevada, contact Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental. Our team is dedicated to providing your child with the highest quality dental care. Don’t wait for your 3-year-old to develop tooth decay. Let us give their teeth a deep, quality clean so they have the foundations for a healthy smile for life.