According to recent statistics, just over 20 percent of children between the ages of 6 to 11 have had cavities in their permanent teeth. Unfortunately, once a cavity has formed on a child's tooth, there is no way to reverse it. The only way to treat a cavity is to have a dentist put a filling in the decayed tooth. According to pediatric dental specialists, however, if a child has a pre-cavity, there are ways to reverse the decay and keep the tooth healthy and strong.
For parents who want to know more, here are the answers to three frequently asked questions about pre-cavities.
1. What Is a Pre-Cavity?
To better understand what a pre-cavity it, is important to know a little bit about the layers of the tooth. These layers include:
- Pulp. The inner layer that contains nerves and blood vessels.
- Dentin. The middle layer that contains microscopic tubules.
- Enamel. The hard outer layer that protects the tooth.
A pre-cavity occurs when decay affects only the tooth's enamel. If the decay reaches the dentin, then it is considered a full-blown cavity.
2. What Are the Signs of a Pre-Cavity?
Although pre-cavities can be hard to detect, there are some signs of cavities in their earliest stages. One of the first signs is white spots on the tooth. The white spots indicate demineralization. This means that the tooth's enamel is losing important minerals, such as calcium and phosphate.
Along with these white spots, the tooth might feel extra sensitive. In many cases, it is hard for parents to detect pre-cavities. Getting examined by a pediatric dental specialist is usually the only way to know a child has a pre-cavity.
3. How Are Pre-Cavities Treated?
The good news is, when a pre-cavity forms due to demineralization, it is possible to restore those vital minerals. To treat pre-cavities, many pediatric dental specialists recommend a prescription-strength toothpaste that contains sodium fluoride. This toothpaste helps to strengthen the tooth's enamel. The stronger the enamel, the harder it is for bacteria to break through to the dentin underneath. A pediatric dental specialist might also recommend a fluoride treatment, which they give during a regular dental exam.
Other ways to prevent pre-cavities from becoming cavities include:
- Chewing sugar-free gum that contains casein phosphopeptide-amorphous calcium phosphate (CPP-ACP) after meals.
- Eating foods that are high in Vitamin D and calcium, such as yogurt, eggs, and cheese.
- Avoid snacking on sugary and acidic foods and candies throughout the day.
It's also important for children with pre-cavities to practice good oral hygiene and see a pediatric dental specialist on a regular basis.