Tooth fillings are one of the most common procedures in dentistry, especially for children. When a cavity develops in a tooth, a simple filling can usually restore the health of the tooth and prevent further damage.
How are cavities found in teeth? How will I know if my child needs a dental filling? Learn about the diagnostic tools used in pediatric dentistry as well as the common signs and symptoms of tooth decay in children.
What is a Tooth Filling?
A tooth filling is the procedure used to repair a cavity, a hole in a tooth caused by plaque bacteria. The decayed portion of the tooth is removed and composite material is used to fill the hole. Composite material can be made to match the color of the existing tooth so that the filling is undetectable.
Why is a Filling Needed?
Plaque is a sticky film made up of food residue and bacteria. When plaque is left on the teeth for too long, it eats away at the tooth enamel, causing a pit to develop in the tooth surface. If not filled it will worsen and become deeper, potentially threatening the health of the tooth. A simple filling can prevent the need for more complex restorative procedures.
How Are Cavities Detected?
The best way to detect cavities is through dental X-Rays. Digital images of the teeth show dark places or shadows where there are cavities in one or more teeth. X-Rays can help identify cavities that are hard to see, such as between the teeth or under the gums. Early detection of cavities allows them to be filled before they worsen.
Common Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Decay
If a cavity is large enough, there may be some noticeable symptoms, such as:
- Sensitivity. A tooth with a cavity may be sensitive to cold, heat, or sugar because the nerves inside the teeth are exposed.
- Pain. A cavity that is deep enough can cause a tooth to ache or throb. This may also be a sign of a tooth infection.
- Discoloration. A cavity in the early stages may look like a white, yellow, or brown spot on a tooth. Severe tooth decay can cause a tooth to look brown or gray.
The Importance of Regular Dental Checkups
Early detection of cavities is extremely important for your child’s dental and oral health. A small cavity in a tooth is easily filled and the tooth can be saved. A large or deep cavity can become a more serious problem. When a cavity reaches the soft layer of tissue beneath the enamel, called dentin, bacteria may be able to enter the root canal of a tooth and infect the dental pulp. A tooth that is infected may need a root canal in order to save it, if it can be saved.
X-Rays are usually taken once a year during one of the two recommended yearly dental visits. If a cavity is found via X-Ray, it can be addressed right away for the best possible outcome.
How Long Does a Tooth Filling Take?
A routine cavity filling is typically about a 30 minute procedure. Local anesthesia is applied to numb the area around the tooth that is being filled. Nitrous oxide is available on request to help ease anxiety.
Why Choose Dental Associates For Kids Only, LLP?
Dental Associates For Kids Only, LLP is a pediatric dental practice serving children and teens. Our fun and relaxing environment helps children feel at ease and even enjoy their dental care. We provide preventive, restorative, orthodontic, and many other dental services in one convenient location.
Call 516-625-3806 or contact us today to learn more and schedule an appointment.