If you have a child, then your son or daughter may end up with a cavity in one or several of the primary teeth. In fact, about 42% of all children between the ages of 2 and 11 will have cavities. The baby teeth do have a layer of dental enamel to protect the teeth from harmful microorganisms. However, the enamel is much thinner than the layer that is seen on the adult teeth. This means that cavities are more likely to develop in the baby teeth. While most cavities can be removed and filled in, deep cavities may require special treatment. Keep reading to learn about what a pediatric dentist will do to treat a deep cavity.
Dental Inspections And Pulpotomies
Before your child's dentist will be able to treat the deep cavity, a full inspection will need to be completed. This inspection will involve an x-ray to see how far the decay has reached into the tooth. If the decay has infected the pulp, but has moved no further, then a treatment called a pulpotomy will be performed. This procedure is also sometimes called a baby tooth root canal.
During the pulpotomy, the dentist will inject an anesthetic. Pediatric dentists will often use a slow flow anesthetic tool to reduce the discomfort of the anesthetic injection. The tool is a computer assisted device that releases a controlled amount of anesthetic into the gums. Once the gums are numbed, a drill is used to remove decay and create a hole in the top crown of the tooth. This hole provides an access point where the pulp can be cleared from the tooth. However, the pulpotomy is not as complete and thorough as a root canal. In the case of a pulpotomy, the dental roots are left alone. This means that the nerves of the tooth are left intact.
Once the pulp is released, medication is used to fill the pulp chamber. This helps to stop the remaining blood vessels from bleeding and filling the tooth chamber with blood. It also reduces the chances of an infection forming inside the tooth. Once the tooth is filled with medicine, a filling is added to close the hole in the tooth. In some cases, a crown may be secured on top of the tooth to protect it from future damage.
Tooth Extractions And Space Savers
If the initial dental inspection and x-ray reveals a tooth with an advanced abscess in the pulp chamber or an abscess in the bone underneath the tooth, then the pediatric dentist may suggest a tooth extraction. This is often necessary to keep the forming adult tooth in the jaw from becoming infected or decayed. The extraction will begin with an anesthetic. Dental extraction forceps are then used to place pressure on the tooth so it starts to loosen. The loose tooth is then pulled out of the jaw. Gauze is used to stop the socket from bleeding.
Since baby teeth are space savers for emerging adult teeth, the pediatric dentist may be concerned about teeth shifting into the open space. This is a concern when a baby tooth needs to be pulled several years before the adult tooth is scheduled to come in. To prevent the shifting of the teeth, a dental appliance called a space maintainer will be secured in your child's mouth. Fixed space maintainers are often used. Lingual arches and distal shoes are two of the most common devices that will be chosen. Once the device is inserted, it will be removed when the adult tooth starts to emerge into the mouth.
Dental cavities commonly develop in the baby teeth of children, and sometimes the cavities will be quite deep. Deep cavities may need special treatment, so make sure to discuss treatment options with a pediatric dentist if a deep cavity is noticed in one of your children's teeth.