Dental treatment for toddlers can be difficult. Toddlers can be uncooperative at the dental office, making extensive treatment such as fillings require chemical or physical restraint. If you notice decay on your toddler's teeth, commonly on the front two teeth if they sleep with a bottle of milk or have their pacifier dipped in honey or syrup, you may be concerned about having the cavities filled. However, your dentist might recommend trying less-invasive solutions first.
Your child's dentist might want to wait until your child is old enough to communicate better before filling any cavities. Alternatively, if your child is older, their dentist may assess that the tooth will fall out naturally before a cavity becomes a problem. In either of these cases, they will ask you to closely monitor the decay. This means that you should be diligent about regular brushing and rinsing after meals. You may also have to take your child in to the dentist for regular checkups.
The goals of monitoring are to stop the decay from spreading and to know immediately if more intensive action is necessary.
There are several gels and mouses that can be applied to your child's teeth to help slow the rate of decay and boost the natural remineralization process. These treatments are generally applied to your child's teeth after brushing and left on for half an hour or overnight.
Most of these options contain fluoride, which should not be swallowed, so they are not an option if you cannot trust your young child to spit out the paste after use. However, your dentist may assess the risk and help you decide if a fluoride solution is right for your child.
Other options contain milk proteins and calcium, which help the teeth remineralize. While these are generally considered appropriate for toddlers, they can cause problems if your child has a milk allergy.
A Remineralizing Diet
To remineralize your child's teeth, their body needs the proper nutrients. You may want to switch their diet to contain more healthy fats and oils, more vitamin D and calcium, and fewer foods with phytic acid, which is commonly found in grains. While you are changing their diet, you may want to reduce sugars and carbohydrates that can cause bacteria to multiply.
If your young child has a cavity, they may not need an immediate filling. Talk to your dentist, one like Thomas E Rider, DDS and Allison S Reese, DDS, about alternative treatment options.