Cavities occur when there is a buildup of dental plaque, (when saliva, food, and fluids combine, plaque - which contains bacteria - forms between your teeth and along the gum line) the protective layer called enamel on your teeth degrades, causing a hole in the tooth. 

Cavities are the most common dental problems in toddlers and children. Dental cavities, also referred to as tooth decay is indicated as permanent damage in the area of a tooth. 

Cavities can develop in your child’s primary or baby teeth and usually, parents think that these teeth are temporary and shrug them off. However, you should not ignore cavities in teeth. 

As regular brushing and flossing can prevent plaque buildup on the teeth, the children who do not brush their teeth properly develop cavities. Good dental hygiene includes regular dental checkups as well.

However, poor oral hygiene is not the only cause of cavities in children, diet also plays a role. Excess of sweets, sugary, or even starchy foods, that are high in carbohydrates, can cause cavities. 

Signs and Symptoms

A dental cavity does not always cause pain; hence, recognizing a cavity in your child can be difficult. The signs that indicate a possible cavity include:

  • Dark spots on the tooth

  • White spots on the tooth

  • Crying or fussiness due to pain

  • Sensitivity to cool foods or drinks

  • Mouth swelling

  • Avoiding food

  • Lethargy  - the feeling of being very tired

Treatment of Cavities in Children:

  • Dental Fillings: These are done in toddlers and children who have more than one cavity. The dentist will remove your baby’s decayed tooth and fill the hole with white composite or metal materials. 

  • Dental Crown: In cases of severe tooth decay, the dentist might recommend a dental crown that is usually silver in color. A crown is basically a cap for a damaged tooth.

  • Extraction: If the tooth is severely damaged or has an infection, your baby’s tooth may need to be extracted. The open gap can be maintained by space maintainers which helps the baby’s permanent teeth to grow properly. 

 Dental Cavities Prevention

The best way to prevent cavities in your child is to teach them good oral hygiene. As a parent, you need to make sure your child knows the proper technique to practice good oral hygiene and they brush for the recommended amount of time.

  • Your child/ children should brush their teeth twice a day for 2 minutes. If one of your children is less than 6 years of age, you should brush the teeth of your younger child and supervise the brushing of your elder one till he/she can thoroughly brush their teeth by himself/herself.

  • Schedule dental appointments every 6 months. 

  • If your baby is less than a year old, regular oral care is still required, as even though your baby does not have teeth, his/her mouth will still have germs.

  • Wipe the gums of your baby with a soft cloth after each feed. 

  • If your child has a sweet tooth, offer him/her healthier alternatives like berries (which are low in glycemic index), nuts, yogurt, bananas, carrots, granola bars, etc., to satisfy the cravings and maintain good oro-dental health. 

Cavities are not only an adult problem; they can also develop in children and toddlers. Hence, it is important to recognize the early signs of a cavity and then speak with your child’s dentist. 

Disclaimer: This article is written by the Practitioner for informational and educational purposes only. The content presented on this page should not be considered as a substitute for medical expertise. Please "DO NOT SELF-MEDICATE" and seek professional help regarding any health conditions or concerns. Practo will not be responsible for any act or omission arising from the interpretation of the content present on this page.