The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists relates that by the time they reach kindergarten age, almost 60% of children in the U.S. have experienced some tooth decay. If it’s left untreated, decay leads to infection, difficulty in chewing, speaking, and can be an aesthetic concern.
What Causes Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay in kids and the cavities that result from it are caused by bacteria which forms when foods containing a large amount of sugars and starches are left on the teeth. Such foods include milk, soda, raisins, candy, cake, fruit juice, and cereals.
Additionally, many starchy foods, such as potato chips, pretzels, white pasta and white bread will break down into sugars while they’re inside your child's mouth. When these starchy foods are broken down, they then feed cavity-causing bacteria, working in the same way that sugar-filled foods do. The result is tooth decay in children.
If left untreated, cavities can cause many problems for kids’ oral health, including tooth loss and more extensive dental procedures.
While all children are at risk for cavities, there are some things that can increase the chances of forming them:
- Higher than average levels of bacteria in your child's mouth
- Consuming large amounts of carbohydrates, sugars, and starches
- Drinking water with very little or no fluoride
- Poor oral hygiene
- Low production of saliva
Spotting Signs of Early Cavities
It’s important to fill cavities in a timely fashion when they appear. Cavities that are untreated can possibly spread to other teeth, destroying not just one tooth but creating an unhealthy environment ripe for other cavities elsewhere in the mouth.
Your child may have a cavity if:
Your child complains of toothache or pain in mouth or teeth
- Teeth sensitivity
- Pain eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold
- Visible pits or holes
- Brown, black or white staining on on teeth
- Pain that occurs when biting down
The best way to prevent cavities is by scheduling a pediatric dental visit every six months, so that your dental team can catch any signs of cavity formation at an early stage.
Dental sealants can be applied during a routine visit as well, which form a strong resin film over the cracks and crevices of the molars, preventing bacteria, food, and plaque from entering crevices and causing decay.
So What Do Kids Cavities Look Like on the Front of a Tooth?
Cavities on the front of the teeth look just like those in the back of the mouth, but are more visible at an early stage. Signs of cavities include:
- White Spots - are an early sign that a cavity is forming
- Staining - ranging in color from black to white. Stains start on the surface of the tooth and work deeper into the tooth over time. However, not all stains are cavities.
- Sensitivity to Hot, Cold, and Sweets
- Tooth Pain
The best way to stop cavities from forming in the first place is by following these simple steps:
- Make sure your child brushes and flosses twice a day
- Limit your child’s sugary treats like sodas and hard candies
- Visit your pediatric dental team for a scheduled pediatric dental checkup every six months
If cavities do form, white fillings and restoration is the next step. Your dentist removes the cavity and decay, and fills the hole with white fillings that match the appearance and color of your child’s teeth. The filling hardens in seconds, quickly and easily. If cavities are larger more or different treatments may be needed.
Ready to Learn More?
If you’re ready to learn more about what causes cavities and how to prevent them, what cavities may look like, or to schedule an appointment for your child, just reach out to us, today!
We’re here and ready to help!