Cavities in Kids: Causes, Symptoms, Risk Factors & Prevention

Cavities are, unfortunately, common among children. Even though your child’s baby teeth will eventually fall out, they still need to be cared for. And baby teeth that develop cavities can affect the development of their adult teeth!

Keep reading for more information about the symptoms, risk factors, causes, and prevention of cavities in kids.

Symptoms of Cavities in Kids

Here are the signs of cavities in kids that parents should look for:

  • Chalky white spots on teeth (in early stages)
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks
  • Brown or black spots on your child’s teeth
  • Tooth pain or soreness
  • Gum inflammation
  • Difficulty chewing or swallowing
  • Abscesses in the gums (in cases of infection)
  • Fever (in cases of infection)

Cavities in Kids

Risk Factors and Causes of Cavities in Kids

  • Prolonged exposure to sugary drinks – Kids who go to bed using a bottle or sippy cup can be especially susceptible to developing cavities. Parents should give their child water at bedtime instead and be sure to brush their teeth before bed.
  • A poor diet–A diet high in sugars and starches can lead to the development of excess plaque buildup, which causes cavities. Limit sugary snacks and drinks such as candy, soda, and fruit juice.
  • Poor tooth enamel–Without a proper layer of enamel, the protective coating that covers your child’s teeth, your child is susceptible to developing cavities. Some children are born with a tendency toward poor tooth enamel, while others develop issues with their enamel due to poor diet and hygiene.
  • Genetic predisposition–Some kids are genetically more prone to developing cavities than others, especially if their tooth enamel is affected.
  • Poor oral hygiene – The biggest risk factor for developing childhood cavities is poor oral hygiene. Parents should begin brushing their child’s teeth as soon as the first tooth appears. Brushing should be done at least twice a day, ideally once in the morning and once at night. In addition, parents often don’t realize that their children still need to be assisted with brushing their teeth until around the age of 6 and supervised until around the age of 8. Your child may be missing spots or brushing improperly, leading to the development of childhood cavities.

Prevention of Cavities in Kids

Untreated cavities can lead to improper oral development, speech delays, pain and soreness, inflammation, headaches and jaw aches, bad breath, and even infections.

Thankfully, there are a few things parents can do to help ensure the prevention of childhood cavities:

  • Regular dental visits – Kids should begin visiting the dentist around the age of 1 and should continue with regular cleanings and checkups every 6 to 12 months.
  • Regular brushing and flossing – Kids may need help with brushing and flossing until around the age of 7 or 8. You can also add in mouthwash around this time.
  • Proper diet – The more you can avoid sugary snacks and drinks, the better — especially at bedtime. Make sure your child brushes their teeth right before bed.

If you think your child may have cavities, please schedule a visit with their dentist or call us to speak with one of our board-certified pediatricians about dietary changes and good oral hygiene practices.