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A Guide to Protecting Your Child from Cavities

A group of smiling children with their thumbs up.

According to recent CDC data on cavity prevalence, 62% of children between the ages of 6 to 8 have had a cavity in their primary teeth. 57% of adolescents between 12 to 19 years of age have experienced at least one cavity in their permanent teeth.

As a parent, you’re probably wondering why tooth decay is so frequent in children and what you can do to protect your little ones from cavities. Here is a comprehensive guide to help you learn all there is to know about cavity prevention and treatment for infants, toddlers, and adolescents.

What Causes Cavities?

Before we move on to learning about how we can prevent cavities, let’s take a look at what actually causes cavities.

Plaque, a film of germs that forms on teeth, is the primary cause of cavities. Most of the time, we have bacteria in our mouth. Some bacteria are helpful, while others, like the ones in plaque, may cause tooth decay.

Plaque bacteria convert sugar and starch from meals and beverages into acids. These acids begin to erode the tooth enamel, resulting in the formation of cavities.

Salivary minerals, such as calcium and phosphate, may make up for part of the minerals lost to dental decay. Plaque causes tooth decay, although fluoride from toothpaste, water, or other sources may help reverse or halt deterioration.

Possible Indications of Tooth Decay

Symptoms of tooth decay are typically absent when the cavity is still in its earliest stages. However, when a cavity develops, symptoms may include the following:

  • Toothache

  • Bad breath

  • Frequent crying in toddlers

  • Sensitivity when consuming cold beverages, snacks, and desserts

  • Tooth discoloration

  • Swelling of the mouth

  • Redness around or within the mouth

How to Prevent Cavities in Children

A group of little kids brushing their teeth.

Here are some precautions you can take to minimize the risk of cavities in your children.


As a mineral, fluoride plays a crucial role in maintaining good oral health. The mineral loss from dental enamel may be reduced or reversed by fluoride. It prevents plaque formation and acid production by bacteria. You may get fluoride in various forms, including pills, rinses, varnishes, and gels.

However, fluorosis, which manifests as white spots on teeth, may occur if excessive fluoride is consumed. The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry recommends a smear amount of fluoridated toothpaste from the time your child gets their first tooth until age 3 and then progressing to a pea size amount after the age of 3.

Protect Your Child’s Smile

Prevent your infant or young child from putting anything, including their fingers, into their mouth. This will not only help maintain their smile but also reduce the chances of infection.

Curb Their Sweet Intake

Keeping cavities at bay might be as simple as changing your kids’ eating habits. To protect their teeth against acid, you should stop them from eating too many snacks between meals.

By reducing their sugar intake, you can protect them from cavities since bacteria need it for survival. Only allow them to eat sweets on rare occasions.

Be sure your kid doesn't have anything sweet to eat or drink after they clean their teeth at night. The amount of fruit juice they consume should also be restricted. American Academy of Pediatrics no more than 4oz of juice per day and drank in one sitting.

Teach Them Healthy Dental Practices

Proper dental care involves brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and frequent flossing. Kids less than 7 or 8 should have an adult supervise them as they clean their teeth. Keep an eye on your kids while they clean their teeth, and remind them not to gulp down the toothpaste.

Explore Sealants with Your Dentist

Children, more vulnerable to dental caries than adults, might benefit from dental sealants. The chewing surfaces of the molars are protected by a thin plastic covering called a sealant.

Visit the Pediatric Dentist Periodically

Some kids are more genetically predisposed to developing cavities, even if they practice meticulous dental care. This may be due to a hereditary predisposition influencing the formation of the tooth enamel, or it may result from germs already present in the mouth.

So you need to visit a pediatric dentist every six months for a dental checkup and professional cleanings. The dentist may suggest more regular checkups if your child has a history of cavities, tooth discomfort, or gum disease.

Different Treatment Methods for Cavities

Dental Filling or stainless steel crown

If your kid has a cavity, the decay will be removed using a tiny drill, and then the hole will be filled with a tooth colored filling or stainless steel crown depending on the size of the cavity and how many areas it involves on their tooth.

Using a Varnish with Fluorides

If the cavity has just begun, the dentist may prescribe fluoride treatments to prevent future harm. Your child's teeth will be treated with a high-fluoride solution to strengthen the enamel and slow the progression of decay.

Root Canal Procedure

A root canal procedure is sometimes suggested if a cavity is near a tooth's nerve. The infected pulp is removed, the tooth is cleaned, and a filling or crown is placed for protection.

Tooth Removal

The dentist may suggest removal if the infection beneath the tooth is too severe or the cavity is too large for a filling or crown. To prevent the neighboring teeth from shifting into the empty area, the dentist may also suggest a dental bridge or implant.

When to Visit the Dentist?

If your child is experiencing tooth discomfort or sensitivity to heat or cold, or sweets, it may be time to visit a dentist. If your child does have a cavity, the dentist will diagnose it during the checkup and take the necessary steps to fix it as soon as possible, so there are no further complications.

Good dental hygiene and oral health go a long way toward preventing tooth decay and cavities—two of the most frequent dental health issues. Contact The Children's Dental Center if you're looking for professional dental treatment options for your children and ensure that they can enjoy optimum oral health today and in the future.

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