Helpful Pediatric Dentistry Tips!

Why Does My Kid Keep Getting Cavities?

by Dr. Steve Whittemore, D.D.S. | Published October 15, 2019

According to the Center for Disease Control, cavities are one of the most common chronic diseases for kids from age 6 to 19. Cavities can cause severe pain for your child and become a major distraction from school and their daily lives. We’ll dive into how cavities are formed, how they are treated, and what preventative measures you can take to ensure your child has a happy and healthy smile. 

What Causes A Cavity?

There are many different factors that contribute to tooth decay. Drinking sugary drinks and frequent snacking, not brushing and flossing enough, and infrequent dentist visits can cause a buildup of bacteria to form in the mouth, ultimately causing a cavity. The germs that cause cavities are called mutans streptococcus. The bacteria thrive on sugar and produce acid that if left untreated, will make its way through the tooth causing a severe cavity. While cavities in children are common, they have the potential to become major oral health issues and can cause your child pain. Practicing good oral hygiene and regular dental visits are great ways to prevent cavities from forming. 

What Are Common Symptoms of Cavities In Children?

While each child will have varied symptoms based on the progression and severity of tooth decay, cavities are often associated with a specific set of issues. If your child has any of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with a dentist to get it checked out by a professional. 

  • Your child might complain that their tooth hurts or that they are having trouble eating or drinking on the side of the mouth where the cavity is located. 
  • When drinking hot or cold drinks, your child might wince with pain because of the increased sensitivity to extreme temperatures on the tooth. 
  • The affected tooth might change colors as the cavity forms. White spots indicate early signs of a cavity forming while a dark brown color is a sign of a deep rooted cavity. Regardless of color, if you see something unusual, take your child to the dentist to get it checked out. 
  • If the cavity has become deeply rooted in the tooth, you might notice small holes or openings in the tooth where the cavity has formed. 

How Is Tooth Decay Treated? 

Tooth decay treatment will depend on your child’s symptoms, age, and severity of the cavity. Most cases will require the dentist to apply a sealant on the tooth. A restorative material will be placed in your child’s damaged tooth that will help prevent future cavities from forming. If the cavity has gone beyond the initial stages of decay, getting a crown might be the next best option. A crown is a custom-fitted covering that will be placed on top of your child’s tooth as a form of protection. The dentist will drill away the damaged areas of the tooth and then put a crown on top of the tooth.

If the cavity has made its way to the depths of your child’s tooth, they may need to get a root canal. Although, this is typically reserved for severe cases where the tooth is in need of major repair to prevent extraction. Establishing a consistent brushing and flossing routine, a healthy diet and regular dentist visits will hopefully prevent the tooth from getting to this stage of decay. 

How Can I Help Prevent My Child From Getting Cavities? 

Cavities are never fun to deal with, no matter how old you are. If you want to take extra precautions to prevent cavities, ask your dentist about dental sealants for your child. They are barriers that can be placed on teeth to prevent cavities from forming in children as young as six years old. Check out our recent blog on sealants to learn more about this preventative measure. 

Further, regular brushing and flossing is the first step in preventing cavities. Stressing the importance of establishing a routine in the morning and at night will help your child understand how vital it is to keep up with their oral health later in life. Maintaining a healthy diet with limited sugary snacks is another major factor in the prevention of cavities. 

We’re Here To Help 

At Pediatric Dentistry, our Dentists have been serving the Des Moines and Ankeny with over 50 years of combined experience. Contact our offices to help prevent cavities from forming in your child’s mouth and reach out to us to treat an existing tooth decay issue. If your child is a new patient, please fill out a patient history and consent form prior to your first visit. We look forward to seeing you.



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