Unfortunately, many children are prone to cavities. Cavities can be caused by inadequate home care, an unhealthy diet, or genetic predisposition, among other reasons.
In a child's tooth, the beginning of a cavity may look like a white spot on the surface. When the white area darkens to brown or black, the formation of a cavity is well underway.
Dentists can also detect new cavities on an X-ray before they become visible to the naked eye. This fact underscores the importance of diagnostic dental X-rays for children.
What Causes Cavities in Children?
Cavities in children stem from the following causes, among others:
- Sugary or starchy food left on the teeth
- Being put to bed with a bottle of anything but water
- Genetic predisposition to soft enamel
- Lack of fluoride in tap water and inadequate supplementation
- Poor home care habits
- Not seeing a dentist for regular cleanings
Symptoms of Dental Decay in Children
In addition to keeping watch for the early visual signs of cavities, parents need to be well-versed in the other symptoms of dental decay:
Sensitivity to Heat and Cold
A child with a cavity may complain that their teeth hurt when they eat hot or cold foods. This issue is a significant sign of decay forming in one or more teeth.
Sensitivity to Sugar
In addition to heat and cold sensitivity, children with cavities may also complain of pain when they consume sugary foods and drinks.
When your child has a toothache, they may be irritable or cry easily. They may also have some swelling in the cheek. Contact your dentist as soon as possible if these symptoms occur.
Visible Pits or Holes
Some cavities form between teeth or in other inaccessible places, but if you see a hole or pit in the tooth, get your child appropriate dental attention as soon as possible.
How to Prevent Dental Decay in Children
Cavities do not have to be a fact of life. They are preventable with proper home care and regular dental visits.
Brush your child's teeth at least twice daily with fluoride toothpaste. You can use fluoride when your child's teeth first come in but only use a smear for babies and toddlers. Floss daily. Older children (age six and up) may need fluoride mouthwash.
Keep all dental appointments and have possible decay treated immediately. When cavities are left to grow in children's teeth, they could lead to severe problems, including adult tooth decay and gum disease.
Contact Suffolk Pediatric Dentistry
Contact us at our convenient offices to find out more about childhood cavities and what you can do to prevent them. Our skilled pediatric dentists can help you devise a plan to keep your child's teeth as healthy as possible.