Dental Cavities: 101

Dental Cavities: 101

Kids are often scared of the dentist because they are experiencing something they don’t fully understand and they don’t want to get bad news that they have a cavity. Because dental caries remains the most prevalent childhood illness, unfortunately we do have to be the bearer of bad news from time to time. But, don’t fret, we are experts at fixing these problems.

Finding Cavities

Not all discolorations in your teeth are cavities. We use our eyes first and an explorer explorer second. “Kids love this instrument,” says Dr. Elizabeth. “It’s the one they recognize, a little metal tool with a sharp tip, which we use to search along the biting surface and between the teeth for cavities. Healthy enamel is really hard. Decayed enamel is softer and the explorer helps us find these differences.”

We also greatly depend on X-rays to get information on hidden areas the explorer cannot go and our eyes cannot see. X-rays also help us understand the depth of cavities that we can see or find with the explorer.

What We Do When We Find Cavities

Despite being scared initially, kids often surprise us with their bravery and curiosity. They want to do a great job helping us fix up their teeth. We take pictures of the cavity before and after and some children find it fascinating to see how their tooth is fixed in the after picture.

We get your child comfortable first and foremost. Some kids get a local anesthetic to numb the area right around the tooth experiencing the problem. Other kids, little and bigger alike, may prefer other options to get comfortable and relax, like nitrous oxide gas. You can talk to your dentist about this and we will accommodate your child’s individual needs.

We remove the decay, clean and prepare the tooth and fill it in with your choice of material, like composite resin or silver amalgam.

What to Expect After the Filling

First off, the anesthesia will take some time to wear off, so your child shouldn’t eat anything until most of their sensation return to avoid the risk of biting his or her cheek or tongue.

There will be sensitivity in that tooth for a day or two. The tooth can be sensitive to any or all of the following:

  • cold
  • pressure
  • biting down
  • sweet or sour foods
  • air

Depending upon the depth of the cavity, this sensitivity may not completely dissappear with time. “Give it about a week or two and try a desensitizing toothpaste like sensodyne to help with any sensitivity after a filling,” says Dr. Renee. “If your child still experiences symptoms or discomfort that doesn’t dissipate in a few days to up to a week immediately after having a filling, give us a call and we will get you in to check it out and figure out the cause.”

About Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan, the offices of Drs. Plunkett, Ralstrom, Makowski, Thanasas, Ker, and Associates

Pediatric Dentistry and Orthodontic Specialists of Michigan have specialized in pediatric dentistry and orthodontics since 1968. Our family-friendly and newly renovated office gives patients and families a more comfortable and consistent experience with dentistry from the very beginning. Our pediatric dentists treat children from newborn to 18 years of age while our orthodontists provide care for both children and adults and are proud to be Premier Providers of Invisalign and Invisalign Teen services. The ability to treat all patients with compassion and individuality, including those that may have special needs reaches beyond our facility, which has treatment rooms available for children who require additional privacy and customized care options.  We pioneered valued hospital affiliations to allow dental services to be performed at DMC Children’s Hospital and St. John Macomb Hospital, when appropriate or necessary, and our specialists are also proud to be on staff at Henry Ford and Beaumont hospitals.

39400 Garfield Rd., Suite 200
Clinton Township, MI
Phone: 586-286-0700
Fax: 586-286-5932