Teeth R Us Children’s Dentistry

Cavity Prevention

boy looking into mirror as he flosses

Cavities are Common in Baby Teeth

Cavities in baby teeth are not unusual. Over 20% of kids under the age of five will experience a cavity. That number jumps to over 50% in kids ages 6-11. Don’t be alarmed if your child develops a cavity, but know that it needs treatment.

What Causes a Cavity?

Cavities are caused by tooth decay, which in turn is caused by damaged tooth enamel. Acid forms in your child’s mouth after eating or drinking. That acid attacks the tooth enamel. 

Weakened enamel allows decay and leads to holes, which are cavities. Cavities (sometimes called carries) can continue to decay if they are not treated, causing larger holes.

What Are the Symptoms of a Cavity?

Sometimes there are no obvious symptoms and a cavity will be discovered by your pediatric dentist. Other times, one or more of these symptoms may appear.

  • Pain The tooth or gums may hurt during chewing or brushing.
  • Sensitivity A tooth with a cavity may feel extra sensitive to hot and/or cold.
  • Dark spots or discoloration Sometimes you can see the hole in the tooth.
  • Bad breath A child who brushes well but still has bad breath may have a cavity.
Why Should Baby Teeth Cavities be Treated?

Your child uses their baby teeth for a long time. Their teeth do a lot of hard work in those early years.

Tooth decay can be painful. A baby tooth with an untreated cavity is likely to hurt, and get worse as the decay spreads. Baby teeth with cavities can prevent your child from eating healthy food. They may not want to chew on a painful tooth. 

Baby teeth damaged by decay and cavities can affect the way your child speaks. They can also prevent adult teeth from forming and emerging properly and damage alignment.

How Are Cavities in Baby Teeth Treated?

Your pediatric dentist will treat a cavity in a baby tooth just like one in an adult tooth—with a filling. This simple procedure can stop the decay in its tracks, eliminate pain, and keep the rest of your child’s teeth healthy.

Brush, Floss, Rinse

Make sure your child brushes their teeth at least twice a day for two minutes each time. They should floss each day. Keep sugary treats to a minimum and have your child drink a lot of water to rinse sugars and acids from their teeth.

Teen girl holding toothbrush and alarm clock

SOME TIPS FOR CAVITY PREVENTION:

  1. Limit meal and snack frequency: Reducing the number of times you eat or snack throughout the day can help minimize the exposure of your teeth to acids and sugars, which can lead to decay.

  2. Encourage good oral hygiene habits: Brushing twice a day, flossing daily, and rinsing with mouthwash can help remove food particles and bacteria that can cause cavities.

  3. Be mindful of your drinks: Beverages like soda, sports drinks, and sugary juices can erode tooth enamel, so opt for water or milk instead.

  4. Avoid sticky foods: Sticky and chewy treats, like gummy candies and dried fruit, can cling to teeth and promote decay. Choose healthier snacks, like fresh fruits and vegetables.

  5. Make treats part of meals: Eating sweets with meals can help minimize their impact on your teeth since your mouth produces more saliva during mealtimes, which helps neutralize acids.

  6. Choose nutritious snacks: Snacks that are low in sugar and high in nutrients, like cheese and nuts, can actually help protect teeth by stimulating saliva production and providing essential minerals.