Cavities in children are one of the most common clinical dental concerns that parents encounter. A cavity occurs when a portion of a tooth is damaged. It is also referred to as tooth decay.

Everyone has primary (or baby) teeth, and about 60% of the population suffers from dental decay that affects primary teeth. Cavities left untreated can have a detrimental impact on how a child’s mouth matures. Cavities in baby teeth must be treated.

Tooth decay is five times as common as asthma, four times as common as childhood obesity and twenty times as common as diabetes in children. Tooth decay is an acid attack on the enamel of the teeth that can result in cavities, or small holes in the teeth. Fillings are used to cure cavities in infant teeth and prevents a cavity from deteriorating or spreading.

Teeth can become plagued with cavities if tooth decay is not addressed by dental specialists or maintained with adequate oral hygiene. Children who have cavities in their main teeth are at risk for a variety of dental issues.

Cavities are common in children’s teeth and can be easily dismissed because they will become loose and fall out soon. Parents should still be proactive in having children’s cavities treated.

Here’s what parents need to know about cavities in children, including common causes, characteristics and conditions.

Cavities in Kids: Causes, Characteristics, and Conditions


  • Poor nutrition: a high-sugar diet causes acid to build up on the enamel, weakening it and increasing the risk of cavities. Furthermore, repeated nibbling feeds the plaque, causing further harm.
  • Poor oral hygiene: Inadequate brushing permits acids to remain on teeth for prolonged periods of time. Sugary meals include acids that destroy teeth as quickly as 20 minutes after a meal.
  • Basic biology: Some children get cavities as a result of hereditary factors that cause enamel to deteriorate. Tooth decay and inadequate saliva production are two causes.
  • Tooth location: Cavities are more common in molars and premolars due to their position in the mouth, and the grooves and pits make cavities easier to develop.


Early tooth decay causes no obvious signs in a child until it becomes larger.

Characteristics include:

  • A light brown discoloration on the tooth.

  • White patches on the teeth.
  • Increased sensitivity to cold or hot beverages.
  • Discomfort in the vicinity of the affected tooth.

Behaviors to watch for:

  • Crankiness: If a baby has dental discomfort, they will cry, become fussy, or tug at their ears.
  • Trouble eating: Tooth discomfort can make it difficult for a child to eat comfortably, and they may even stop eating particular foods.
  • Weight loss: This is due to the child’s inability to eat enough food due to dental discomfort.


The dentist may recommend several treatment options depending on how advanced the decay is:

Dental Fillings:

If the cavity is serious, the dentist will drill away the affected region to remove it. They’ll then use resin, acrylic, silver, or another filler. Substance to fill the hole created by the cavity. This operation is often completed in a single visit. The dentist may divide the appointments if the child has numerous cavities to fill. The dentist will need to inject a numbing agent into the mouth prior to the treatment. Sedation dentistry is an option for parents who want their child to be pain-free during the operation.


If the cavities are small, they may heal on their own with excellent oral care and a dental-friendly diet. Brushing and flossing the teeth on a daily basis, consuming calcium-rich foods and eating a low-sugar diet can all help to keep the cavity from growing.


A dentist will remove the tooth if the cavity is too large or the tooth is infected. To make room for the adult tooth to erupt, the dentist may place a spacer.

Other Treatments

A dentist may determine that a tooth requires no treatment if the cavity is not severe or if the tooth is close to falling out on its own. In this case, they will recommend no treatment and suggest monitoring. For more information, visit Rincon Family Dentistry’s Pediatric Dentistry services webpage.

When is the Right Time to See the Dentist?

Do not put off seeing a dentist until the child has cavities. As soon as a child turns one or has their first tooth sprout, schedule an appointment with a dental professional. After that, it’s recommended to visit the dentist every six months.

If your kid complains of tooth pain or other symptoms, make a dental appointment. The dentist will do an oral examination and, based on the findings, will prescribe either monitoring or treatment.

What to Expect During a Dental Visit?

A comprehensive examination of a child’s teeth, gums, bite, jaw and oral tissue will be performed during a dental checkup. The appointment will last between 30 and 45 minutes.

The dentist will take X-rays to identify the best course of action. If cavities are discovered, a filling may be performed at the same time or at a later date.