This is a typical situation with kids these days. Between the daily exposure to sweets, candies and soda, along with too few hours in the day to always brush and floss as well as we would like our kids to do, small cavities can form. When cavities are in the early stages they usually affect the outer hard coating of the teeth called enamel. Cavities usually progress slowly when only the enamel is affected. When the cavity grows deeper and extends into the inner layers, called dentin, the cavity progresses much faster. It is at this point that cavities can cause a lot of damage to the tooth if it is not treated in a timely manner.
Cavities that are still in enamel do not always need to be treated by being drilled and filled. Although in some cases that maybe the best choice, there are circumstances where an alternative approach maybe better.
Remineralization is a process that allows the cavity damaged enamel to repair itself, thereby avoiding the damage to the tooth that would occur if the cavity progresses, or if the tooth is drilled and filled. This process involves using special prescription medication toothpaste, coupled with special home care instructions and follow up. The patient needs to watch future sugar intake during this tooth repair time period, and be very dedicated to excellent home brushing and flossing. The progress of the remineralization must be monitored very carefully with frequent follow up appointment and X-rays when appropriate.
In the situation described for this typical 13 year old child, you should ask your dentist how deep is the cavity. If the cavity is still contained within the hard out coating of the tooth, then ask your dentist if remineralization is a good option.
At San Pablo Dental Care our doctors are highly trained in this procedure, and it is often used as a conservative approach that not only avoids the unpleasantness of having a filling procedure completed (shots, numb lip, etc.), but it saves the tooth from further damage. We would be happy to discuss this subject in more detail if you would like. Just give us a call and one of our knowledgeable staff persons will be happy to assist you.