Kids Guide to Dental Cavities

Getting a cavity is no fun. It is important to have good dental hygiene so that you do not get cavities. Sometimes you will not know you have a cavity until you start to feel a lot of pain. There are lots of things we can do to help prevent cavities, but it is also a good idea to learn about them and what to look for in case you think you might have one. A cavity is basically a hole inside of or on the surface of the tooth. If it is not treated, cavities can be very painful and sometimes even dangerous. Be sure you know all about cavities so you can keep them from happening to you.

Causes

Cavities form in your mouth when something called plaque builds up on the tooth and works with bacteria to create acid. Plaque is a sticky buildup and is usually white in color. When the bacteria and acid forms in your mouth from plaque, this acid can wear away at enamel, which is the coating over your tooth that protects it and keeps it from harm. If your enamel wears out, these acids start to eat away at the tooth, creating a cavity. Not brushing your teeth regularly and eating too much sugar are some causes of cavities. Too much plaque buildup is the main cause of cavities, so it is very important that you pay attention to the reasons why they form, as well as the symptoms.

Signs and Symptoms

There are several different ways to know if you have a cavity. The most common symptom is pain, which can range from mild and nagging to very sharp or throbbing. If your teeth look stained, it can be a serious sign that your teeth are dealing with problems that can lead to cavities. Other signs are if you have sensitivity in your teeth when you bite down on something, or when you eat or drink something very hot or very cold, and you feel pain. Many people know they have a cavity when they feel the hole in their tooth actually beginning to form. Others may have headaches or experience swelling at the place where the cavity is located. If you think you might have a cavity, you should tell your parents so they can take you to see your dentist.

Prevention

The best way to prevent cavities is to brush your teeth often. Dentists recommend that you brush in the morning, after every meal if possible, and before you go to bed. Use dental floss as well, because this will help to remove any plaque that is stuck in between your teeth. Regular visits to the dentist are also important. Your dentist can examine your teeth and look for cavities, and he or she can clean them thoroughly, removing extra plaque. Avoid eating too much sugar, because this will contribute to plaque buildup and encourages bacteria to grow in your mouth.

Treatment

The most common way to treat a cavity is to have the dentist fill it. The dentist will use a resin or metal material to fill in the cavity to keep it from growing. If the cavity is too large, they may decide to put a crown on top of your tooth. A crown is a piece of metal that is custom fitted to your tooth and covers it to prevent any further decay. If your cavity has become infected the dentist may perform something called a root canal. This is a type of oral surgery that the dentist will perform and remove the entire root of the tooth so there will be no more pain. Good dental health care is a great way to prevent having to go through any of these cavity treatments.

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