Early childhood and adolescent dental caries are one of the most common diseases in the United States.
A disease process called caries causes cavities secondary to many factors.
- Increase in consumption of sugary beverages and between meal snacking
- Transmission of bacteria: we all have the same bacterial flora but if Streptococcus mutans is a high percentage of that bacteria it spells trouble
- Home care brushing and especially flossing are extremely important
- The pH of the saliva after the consumption of sugar is low (acidic), neutralization by saliva is crucial
- Spacing between the teeth
- Fluoride content and strength of enamel
- Saliva may be changed by medications, especially its quantity and fluidity
- Presence of orthodontic appliances
Dentists, parents and adolescents are going to have varied opinions on how to manage the dental caries. Also, every child is affected by the caries process differently. Some children can have sugar all day long and never get a cavity; other children are very prone to cavities. The factors listed above all have an effect on this. You should express your concerns and wishes. Depending on the size of the cavity, treatment can include either an aggressive preventative protocol or restoring the cavity with a filling.
The preventative protocol applies if the cavities are very small and at MPD we have set up a program to facilitate this. You and your child will receive education on how cavities form and how to prevent them at home. Current research shows that even if small cavities have formed, they can stop growing and even be remineralized with an aggressive preventative plan. Prevention can be accomplished with a combination of improved oral hygiene, diet modification and the use of prescription rinses and toothpastes. Note that prescription products are many times stronger than over the counter products and should not be swallowed.
If your child needs a filling, its average lifespan is only 8-10 years, and even less for primary teeth. A filling is never as strong as the original tooth structure and can develop a cavity around it. It is crucial that a preventative protocol be set up to help maintain fillings that are placed and prevent more cavities from developing.
Close monitoring of cavities and fillings is crucial and Madison Pediatric Dental & Orthodontics is committed to maintaining the best technology to accomplish this. Sequential X-rays and new caries detecting laser instruments have aided in the diagnosis of caries as well as their rate of growth and extent. This will be shown to you on X-rays and photos. We have kits that we can use to test the concentration of cavity causing bacteria as well as level of acidity of saliva. All of these tools will be used to develop a preventative plan that best suits your child.