Learning that you or your child developed a cavity can be stressful, especially when that cavity is located in a highly visible part of the mouth, such as the front teeth. If your child has a cavity on the front tooth or you have one yourself, you may be wondering why it happened and how your dentist might treat it.
Common Cavity Locations
Tooth decay is most common in the molars and premolars, explains the Mayo Clinic. These teeth are located in the back of the mouth and have grooves and pits that can collect food particles. The back teeth may also be harder to reach with a toothbrush or floss.
While the front teeth are smoother and easier to access for cleaning, they're not immune to cavities. Any of your teeth can develop decay.
Causes of Front Tooth Cavities
If cavities are more commonly seen in back teeth, why might you develop a cavity on the front tooth? A survey conducted by Public Health England found that 5.1 percent of 5-year-old children in the country had decay in one or more of their front teeth, also known as the incisors. Public Health England explains that this type of decay is linked to long-term bottle use, especially when children are given sugar-sweetened beverages to drink overnight or for long periods of time during the day. Decay caused by these beverages is known as baby bottle tooth decay.
While the American Dental Association (ADA) explains that cavities are especially common in children, people of all ages may develop cavities in any of their teeth if their oral hygiene routine is insufficient. Forgetting to brush your teeth, skipping your flossing routine and consuming sugary foods and drinks puts you at risk of developing cavities.
It's important to seek treatment for a cavity as soon as possible before the decay worsens. This could be particularly important for front teeth cavities, because the Public Health England survey notes that children with decay in their front teeth may be more likely to have additional teeth affected.
There are many ways that dentists can repair a front tooth cavity. Much like cavities elsewhere in the mouth, cavities in the front teeth may be treated with fillings. A dentist will remove the decayed portion of the tooth and fill it with a strong, restorative material. For a natural look, tooth-colored fillings may be used. These fillings can be made from materials such as acrylic acids or resins, reports Johns Hopkins Medicine. This treatment typically only takes one appointment.
To correct cosmetic issues that arise from a cavity on a front tooth, a dentist may recommend treating the cavity with either a crown, which is a tooth-shaped white colored restoration over the decayed tooth, or a veneer, which is a thin piece of porcelain bonded to the front surface of the tooth. Johns Hopkins Medicine explains that these options may require two or more dental visits, and they can also be designed to match the patient's natural tooth color. Your dentist can help you determine the best treatment option for your individual situation.
Preventing Tooth Decay
No one wants to develop cavities. Fortunately, the ADA emphasizes that you can significantly reduce your risk of tooth decay with some simple steps. A good at-home oral hygiene routine is the first place to start. Remember to brush your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste, and floss once per day. It's also important to eat a balanced diet and try to limit foods and drinks with added sugars. See your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings, too.
If you develop a cavity in your front tooth or notice that your child has developed one, rest assured that these cavities can be treated. By taking simple precautions, you can reduce your risk of future tooth decay and help your whole family maintain healthy smiles.