What Parents Need to Know About Treatment of Childhood Tooth Decay

March 20, 2017

Your child has been just been diagnosed with tooth decay and it requires restorative treatment. Don’t despair… here’s some helpful information that will reduce the possibility of a stressful experience.

The first thing that you should know is that children’s teeth are much more delicate and vulnerable than adult teeth. Their enamel is about 1/3 the thickness of an adult tooth, so problems can develop quickly with no apparent signs.

The earliest signs of decay may only be detectable by a Canary Laser System and show up as a weakening of the enamel. These are referred to as incipient lesions and can be treated simply with remineralization therapy.

If the lesions have grown slightly larger, they may have just barely reached the second layer (dentin) of the tooth. These should be treated with restorative therapy such as a small filling in the tooth as soon as possible after detected.

When lesions have grown larger and nearing the soft inner pulp of the tooth, a pulpotomy will be required. As the name suggests, the tooth’s pulp will be removed. Teeth treated with a pulpotomy typically require stainless-steel crown placements to provide the strength needed until they ready to be replaced by adult teeth.

Lesions that have allowed bacteria to penetrate through all the layers of the tooth, unfortunately will require removal of the tooth to prevent future bacterial infections. If a tooth has a large cavity, is already painful, or has had any signs of swelling, extraction is the only choice. If a primary tooth is lost ahead of schedule, a space maintainer should be inserted in its place.

Even with the best diagnostic imaging, there may be occasions when it is impossible to determine the exact amount of tooth decay until the dentist begins the actual restorative work. If this is the case, the original treatment recommendation may need to be modified. Parents will always be informed about this change and your consent may be needed to treat your child. That said, no Sante – Highbury dentist will ever force treatment for a child who is unable to handle the circumstances.

Our dentists have a long history of experience, and have been trained in several coaching techniques to facilitate a successful appointment, usually even when a child protests. If however, it turns out that your child is unable to proceed with the treatment appropriately, a subsequent appointment with sedative medications may be recommended. The other option is to be referred to a pediatric specialist.

We understand that treating children in a caring way is of the utmost importance to foster future healthy relationships with healthcare professionals. Our practice philosophy also intends to foster the best possible relationship with both child and parent. So, we typically do not charge for a failed first appointment.

Our aim is to share knowledge and initiate a discussion about your child’s oral health so you may expect the best possible outcomes of their dental treatment. We encourage parents to learn the following details before any dental treatment is initiated:
• Your child’s diagnosis.
• The intended treatment and its benefits.
• The risks of treatment.
• The costs of treatment.
• Alternative treatments and their costs.
• The consequences of choosing no treatment.
• How you can help coach and prepare the child from home.
You may have more questions and concerns about what should be done in your child’s best interest. At Sante – Highbury Dental, these are always welcome.