Cavities, also referred to as caries or tooth decay, are common in pediatric patients. If left untreated, your child is at risk of developing an infection, which could spread to other areas of their body. In addition, when left untreated, cavities can grow and spread to the tooth pulp, where the blood vessels and nerves are, which can cause significant pain. All of this can result in difficulties in eating, speaking, and even learning.

Some of the most common causes of cavities in children include:

  • Drinking water with low levels of fluoride
  • Eating too many carbs, sugars, and starches
  • Low saliva production
  • Poor oral hygiene habits
  • Higher levels of bacteria in the mouth

The best way to prevent cavities is to teach your child proper brushing and flossing habits, as well as visiting the dentist every 6 months for an exam and cleaning. Regular visits to the dentist can help with the early detection of cavities, allowing us to treat them before they advance and spread.

Little Diamonds Pediatric Dentistry is a pediatric dental clinic located in Arlington, VA. We offer a variety of dental services including dental fillings, orthodontics, and more. We do not use silver amalgam fillings because they are not aesthetically pleasing and result in a weaker tooth structure. Instead, we use tooth-colored inlays and onlays because they are not only aesthetically pleasing but also strengthen the damaged tooth.

Symptoms of Cavities in Children

Every child is different and therefore, the signs and symptoms of cavities vary. However, there are a few common ones that parents should be aware of:

  • White spots on the tooth
  • Darkening of the tooth
  • Formation of light brown color on the tooth
  • Hole in the tooth
  • Reactions to cold or sweet foods/beverages

If your child has any of these cavity symptoms, they need to see a dentist right away. The dentist will treat cavities with a restoration known as a dental filling. There are two types of fillings:

  • Direct: requires only one visit to fill the cavity
  • Indirect: requires two visits to restore the tooth with a customized material

If left untreated, cavities and tooth decay can result in life-threatening infections. If your child has the following, you should seek immediate medical attention:

  • Increased pain and/or swelling
  • Difficulty chewing/eating
  • Pus drainage
  • Fever
  • Additional signs of infection

Early detection of cavities is important for your child’s oral and overall health. Regular dental check-ups can help. By visiting the dentist every 6 months, you can help keep your child’s teeth healthy and encourage good oral hygiene habits from an early age.

Little Diamonds’ Cavities Treatment for Children

Little Diamonds Pediatric Dentistry is a mercury-free practice. We do not use silver amalgam fillings for a couple of reasons. First, this type of dental restoration causes the structure of the tooth to weaken. Second, this type of restoration is not aesthetically pleasing.

Instead, we use tooth-colored resin onlays. An onlay is bonded to the tooth, which creates a much better fit than traditional silver fillings. This restoration can be used when much of the tooth structure is missing, which strengthens the tooth and allows the patient to keep the tooth intact instead of having an extraction.

The resin used for these restorations contains fluoride, which can help with the prevention of tooth decay. In addition, the resin wears like natural teeth and doesn’t have to be placed at the gum line, which means healthier gums.

Typically, onlays require two appointments. During the first one, the dentist will thoroughly examine your child’s teeth, as well as take x-rays. An impression will be made of the teeth so that the onlay can be custom-made by the dental lab. This usually takes about 30 minutes, though it may take longer if any decay must be removed.

Once the restoration is returned from the lab, we will schedule for your child to have it placed. This usually takes about an hour.

The benefits of this procedure include:

  • Faster recovery time
  • Improved appearance
  • Reduced pain

Meet Our Pediatric Dentist In Arlington, VA

Dr. Dina Ghaly is considered one of the best pediatric dentists in Arlington, VA for many reasons, including her extensive education and training in pediatric dentistry, sedation, and laser dentistry. She is a board-certified pediatric dentist with a strong commitment and passion for treating children, including those with special needs. Dr. Ghaly has also developed a new curriculum aimed at educating future pediatric dentists on multiple special needs related topics. She believes in prevention and encourages children to start visiting the dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts. With her expertise and gentle approach, Dr. Ghaly is well-equipped to treat cavities and provide comfortable dental care to children.

Aftercare Instructions

Dental fillings in children are a fairly common procedure. As a general rule, most will resume normal activities following treatment. However, some need more time, especially if it is their first treatment. Some general aftercare tips include:

  • Pay attention to how your child feels – if they are in pain, an OTC pain reliever should help. The pain should fade within 2 weeks. If the pain worsens or doesn’t resolve within that time, contact the dentist- there may be an issue with the filling itself or another cavity forming in a nearby tooth.
  • Stop teeth grinding – bruxism is common in children. In some cases, the child doesn’t realize they are doing it- on the other hand, some do it purposefully. A mouthguard can help prevent damage to teeth, as well as gentle reminders to stop.
  • Modify a child’s diet – limit sugary foods and beverages as much as possible and encourage children to rinse their mouth or brush their teeth after consuming these foods/beverages. This will prevent bacteria and plaque buildup.
  • Keep up with oral hygiene – brush for 2 minutes at least twice daily, and floss before bed. This will help prevent bacteria and plaque buildup. Make sure to supervise young children to ensure that they are brushing properly and being gentle around restorations to avoid dislodging them.

When your child is released following their dental filling procedure, the team will inform you if an immediate follow-up is necessary. Otherwise, plan to continue visits every 6 months to keep your child’s teeth healthy. You can schedule follow-up appointments with Little Diamonds Pediatric Dentistry by visiting our website or by calling the office at (571)281-8714.