Cavities are common in children in the US, with 42% of children between the ages of 2 and 11 having tooth decay in their primary teeth.

If you are worried that your toddler is experiencing pain in his or her mouth, it is possible that they could have a cavity.

How do you know if there are cavities in a toddler’s teeth?

Let’s take a look at signs to watch out for when you’re concerned about toddler cavities.

What Causes Cavities in Toddler Teeth?

Bacteria in your toddler’s mouth feed on sugar in order to produce an acid that can eat away at the tooth structure through the depletion of calcium. Additionally, this bacteria can produce plaque, which is a film that collects on teeth and can also erode tooth enamel. When the area of a tooth that has been depleted of calcium gets large enough, the tooth surface collapses. This is what we call a cavity.

Interestingly, babies are not born with these types of harmful bacteria inside them out. Some studies have found that it is typically the mother that gives this type of bacteria to the child before they are two years old. This infection occurs when your saliva is transferred into your child’s mouth, typically by letting your toddler youth your toothbrush or by eating from the same spoon.

Which Children Are Most at Risk For Cavities?

All children are at risk for getting cavities, a number of things can heighten this risk. Things like having poor oral hygiene, eating a diet high in starches and sugars, or a water supply that has little to no fluoride in it can increase the risk of cavities in toddlers.

Other things that can put your child more at risk are having less saliva flow the normal or having higher levels of cavity causing bacteria in their mouths.

Signs That Your Toddler Has a Cavity

Tooth decay can look different in different children. However, the typical progression looks like this:

  • The affected areas begin to have white spots form on the teeth, which indicate that the enamel has started to break down
  • The tooth or affected area takes on a light brown color which is an early cavity
  • As it progresses, the cavity gets deeper and turn to a darker shade of brown or even black

There are not always symptoms that accompany a cavity in a toddler. Different children will experience different symptoms. If your child has developed a sensitivity to certain foods, like cold or hot drinks or sweets, or they have pain in their mouths, it’s possible that they have a cavity.

Does My Toddler Have a Cavity? Tooth Decay Diagnosis For Children

If you suspect that your toddler has a cavity, you’ll want to bring them to the dentist for a diagnosis. They will use the medical history of your child, dental x-rays, and an exam of your child’s mouth in order to determine whether or not they do in fact have a cavity.

Toddler Cavity Pain Relief: How Tooth Decay Is Treated For Children

Depending on the general health, age, and symptoms of your child, toddler cavity treatment will vary.

Typically, the decayed part of the tooth will be removed and replaced with a filling. A filling is a type of material that is put into teeth in order to repair the damage that was done. You may also hear them referred to as restorations.

The two different types of selling are known as direct restorations and indirect restorations. Direct restorations only require a single visit and might be made out of resident, silver, fine glass powders, or acrylic acids. Indirect restorations require at least two visits and might be constructed out of ceramics, gold, base metal alloys, or composite. Indirect restorations include veneers, bridges, crowns, inlays, and onlays.

Preventing Toddler Cavities

There are a number of simple things that you can do to help prevent toddler cavities.

First, you’ll want to start dressing your child’s teeth right away as soon as the first tooth appears. You can use fluoride toothpaste to press the teeth, gums, and tongue twice a day. You can also watch your child brush their own teeth.

When you are brushing the teeth of children that are younger than three, you will only want to use a very small amount of toothpaste. The proper size for a child this young is roughly the size of one grain of rice. Once your child it’s three, they can use an amount of toothpaste that is roughly pea-sized.

After the age of two, you’ll want to start flossing your children’s teeth every day.

One really important factor in helping to prevent toddler cavities in molars or in other teeth is to ensure that they are eating a well-balanced diet. Snacks that are high in sugar or sticky should be limited.

Make sure your child’s bottle only has water in it at bedtime.

You’ll also want to try and prevent transferring your own mouth bacteria to your child’s mouth.

Every six months, your child should have routine dental cleanings and exams. This can help to catch a cavity early if one does start to form.

Is It Time For Your Toddler to Visit a Dentist?

At Nolensville Pediatric Dentistry, we are committed to providing your family with high-quality, gentle, and safe dental care.

Is it time for you to schedule your first visit with a new dentist for your toddler? Are you worried about toddler cavities and would like to learn more? Contact us today to schedule an appointment or ask any questions you might have!