Consider these alternative to filling cavities in baby teeth to save your child from the pain. And also learn more on how to prevent cavities in babies.
As parents, many of you might be skeptical about getting your baby’s cavities filled by a dentist. This apprehension can mostly be due to equalling a dental visit to pain and discomfort and not wanting your baby to go through that. Though the standard protocol for dental cavities in your baby’s teeth (milk teeth/primary teeth) still advocates the filling of teeth after removing dental caries, there are a few other options that can be considered.
How do we get dental cavities?
The medical term for ‘Cavities’ is ‘Dental Caries.’ Dental caries or cavities occur when bacteria present in the oral cavity break down sugar and carbohydrates to produce acid, causing tooth decay. This is majorly attributed to the demineralization of the protective layer of the teeth- the ‘Enamel. ‘Dr. Angela Evanson, a prominent member of the ‘American Dental Association‘.
Though permanent adult teeth replace the milk teeth in your baby between 6-12 years of age, you still need to take steps to preserve these milk teeth against dental cavities.
Why do cavities in baby’s milk teeth need to be filled?
- To avoid infection, swelling, or pain due to advanced dental cavities.
- To prevent the need for removal of the affected baby tooth in case of severe decay. This removal might lead to some disturbances in the alignment of the permanent adult teeth later in life.
- Avoiding issues with speech or eating that arises from decayed teeth.
Alternatives To Filling Cavities In Baby Teeth
1. Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF)
SDF is a mixed heavy metal complex derived from silver-fluoride solution and ammonia. The individual properties of these constituents are:
- Silver is infamous widely in medical and dental treatments as an antimicrobial.
- Fluoride is vital in arresting and reversing dental caries.
- Ammonia is essential to maintain the solution at constant concentrations for a longer duration.
Therefore, these components’ combined therapeutic effects led to its approval by the ‘Food and Drug Administration‘ (FDA) in 2014 for use in the United States. Post this, SDF has gained widespread popularity, especially in pediatric patients, to arrest tooth decay progression.
The advantages of SDF are:
- It can protect your baby’s milk tooth from decay until it falls off and is replaced by permanent adult teeth.
- Studies show no reported side effects from the use of SDF in babies.
- More cost-effective than traditional fillings.
- Treatment is pain-free and comfortable for your baby.
- It can be helpful in challenging situations such as a special needs baby, an uncooperative baby, babies genetically prone to dental cavities, or babies with multiple cavities.
- It cannot be used for deep cavities associated with pain or facial swelling. In this case, standard filling or pulpotomy should be carried out depending on your dentist’s advice.
- Aesthetically, SDF might not score high. This is due to the black color staining of the decayed tooth and surrounding gums.
- The ‘American Dental Association‘ (ADA) suggests SDF use only for temporary management and control of cavities until the tooth falls out. Dentists therefore do not use this as a long term solution.
2. The ‘Hall Technique’ formulated by the Dundee pediatric dentistry team:
This hallmark technique involves placing a pre-formed metal cap or covering over your baby’s milk tooth to trap the decay. This is effective because it prevents sugar or oxygen from coming in contact with the bacteria in the decay, leading to an inability of the bacteria to survive and cause further damage.
Disadvantages: The only drawback is that this treatment is unsuitable if your baby’s cavity is very deep or is associated with pain, swelling, or discomfort.
How can you get any of the above mentioned dental treatments for your child?
- Visit a dental clinic that provides the mentioned treatment options.
- Allow your dentist to evaluate your baby and confirm if your baby is the right candidate to receive any of these alternative treatments.
- Ask your dentist all your queries before finalizing on the treatment for your child.
- Carefully follow all your dentist’s instructions and attend all the follow-up visits.
Researchers from Washington’s school of dentistry are working on a protein that mimics ‘Enamel’ and can repair the damaged tooth. However, this research is still ongoing and has not been approved for use yet.
As we all know, prevention is better than cure, and this applies to dental cavities too. The best ways to prevent cavities in your baby include:
- Brushing your baby’s teeth twice a day for two minutes with a baby brush or a muslin cloth. Toothpaste is not necessary.
- Avoid long periods of bottle feeding, do not allow your baby to fall asleep with the milk bottle is in his/her mouth, avoid sugary foods and always give your baby some water after every meal or snack (to wash away milk or food particles in the mouth).
- If your baby starts to develop any discoloring spots in his/her teeth, immediately consult a dentist as this might be a warning sign for these spots to progress into caries.
- If your baby experiences tooth pain or facial swelling, You must visit a dentist immediately.
Therefore, from this article, we hope to have given you an insight on how to ensure whether or not your baby’s teeth are healthy. You can now also consider alternatives to filling cavities in baby teeth mentioned in this article in case your baby develops any cavities!