When your child has tooth decay on one or more teeth, our pediatric dental specialists for fillings have the option of placing composite fillings rather than traditional metal ones. Composite fillings closely resemble the color of teeth and are therefore much less noticeable to others. At Bay Area Kids Dentist, we find that most children and parents prefer this alternative. After removing a small amount of decay from the tooth, our dentist fills it with tooth-colored material and uses a high intensity visible light to harden it onto the tooth permanently.
Factors to Consider with Kid’s Fillings
White fillings are more aesthetically pleasing, but they can also cost more and take longer to place than silver fillings. This will make the initial investment higher, but most people find this to be a fair trade-off for the advantages. Many parents have legitimate concerns about the long-term safety of metal fillings since they do contain a small amount of mercury. Although it’s rare, the metal can eventually break loose and cause an infection in the mouth. Additionally, dentists need to remove more of the original tooth structure to place traditional metal fillings.
When Tooth Decay is Extensive
In the event that the majority of your child’s tooth has decay present, our dentists will place a crown over the tooth to preserve it. This is true of both primary and permanent teeth. Unfortunately, a filling is not enough at this point to prevent additional decay and possible loss of the tooth. Dental crowns are a more aggressive option that is appropriate in such cases.
How to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children
Some parents ask the staff at Bay Area Kids Dentist why caring for the primary teeth is so important when they eventually fall out anyway. Modeling excellent oral hygiene habits to your kids early in life and helping them develop a routine themselves are two essential tasks as a parent. This promotes long-term oral health long after the baby teeth are gone. However, losing the primary teeth prematurely can cause numerous problems as your child gets older. One common issue is for other baby teeth to move into the vacant position and make it difficult for the permanent teeth to grow in properly.
Allowing a baby or toddler unlimited access to a bottle and sugary snacks are the two biggest reasons that tooth decay occurs in such young children. We urge all parents to never put their child to bed or down for a nap with a bottle. This results in liquid remaining in the mouth for too long and causing bacteria to grow. It’s also important to limit snacking as well as offer healthy alternatives that are better for your child’s health and teeth.We also realize that tooth decay still happens sometimes in spite of the best efforts of parents to prevent it. That’s why we offer solutions such as tooth-colored fillings to our young patients.
An Alternative to Fillings for Children: Silver Diamine Fluoride Treatment
Silver Diamine Fluoride (SDF) is a drill-less treatment for tooth decay and the reduction of pain. SDF is a clear liquid applied to your child’s tooth. SDF has been used extensively in numerous countries around the globe for decades and is now FDA approved. Children who have active decay, but can’t cooperate for treatment would be good candidates for Silver Diamine Fluoride.
Benefits of Silver Diamine Fluoride:
- Provides relief from sensitivity
- Stains visible & hidden tooth decay for you and your dentist to see
- Stops the progression of cavities
- Offers a No Needle/No Drill alternative treatment
- No known side effects other than cavity staining
- Provides cost benefits for children with cavities
- Treatment time is less than a filing
What to Expect
SDF only stains cavities, not healthy parts of a tooth. The tooth staining associated with SDF can takes days to appear. If SDF inadvertently touches your child’s skin, you will see temporary tattooing. This is not a health concern and will fade within 2-3 days.
How does it work?
Silver Diamine Fluoride is a potent antimicrobial agent used to kill germs that cause cavities. When the silver ion from the SDF is absorbed into the infected area it kills the bacteria. When applied to a tooth with a possible cavity, the active decay becomes inactive and the risk of future decay is reduced.
How do I know it is working?
The stain caused by the cavity is turned black by the Silver Diamine Fluoride. When this occurs, the dark surface becomes hard to gentle probing. This also reduces sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweets. Most importantly, an arrested cavity does not grow in size. Data on this procedure suggests that when all active cavities become inactive, there is a reduced chance of new cavities developing.