How Do I Know If My Kid Has a Cavity?

Get to know the signs that your child has a cavity

Why does my child keep getting cavities?

It’s common for parents to assume that tooth decay is the result of infrequent brushing or flossing. While that’s true to an extent, it’s not the only reason children are more susceptible to dental caries, otherwise referred to as a cavity. Mutans streptococcus is the bacteria that causes tooth decay. It feeds on sugar and food particles, producing an acid that eats away at the enamel. This process is what causes the holes in the teeth known as cavities in both children and adults.

Since milk teeth (baby teeth) have a thinner protective layer, it’s not uncommon for kids to wind up with a cavity or two. Children can easily get dental caries even when parents try their best to prevent them with a regular oral routine and healthy eating habits. That’s why it’s important that your little one visits the dentist as soon as the first tooth pops out and keeps doing so every six months or more.

A Cavity Checklist for Parents

As adults, it’s easy to know when you have a tooth problem — the throbbing pain in the jaw, sensitivity to hot and cold drinks, sore gums … you get the idea. But how can you tell when your little one has an oral issue like dental caries? Our kids don’t always know the right words to tell us what’s hurting. In fact, it’s quite possible for your child to suffer from a cavity without you even knowing it. Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry has a pretty handy checklist you can use to know if your child has a cavity.

What your child will say

  • “I have a toothache.”

Tooth pain in children can mean a number of things. It could be that a new tooth is trying to break through the gumline or that you need to be on the lookout for cavities.

  • “My gum is sore.”

It’s easy for kids to misinterpret a toothache for gum pain. This happens mostly with toddlers than with older kids, but in either case, to be on the safer side, check for cavities.

  • “It hurts when I chew.”

Older kids can let you know right away if they have difficulty chewing, but for younger children, parents have to get a little creative. Try to pick up on any unusual eating habits like only chewing with one side of the jaw or a sudden refusal to eat their favorite “hard” foods, like apples and carrots.

  • “I don’t want any ice cream.”

Now that’s a sentence many parents thought they’d never hear. Working on the assumption your little one has no dietary restrictions, a refusal to eat their favorite sugary snacks or hot and cold drinks may point to cavities.

What parents will see

  • You notice spots.

See any white, chalky, or dark spots on your little one’s teeth? That’s an early sign of tooth decay, which, if left untreated, leads to cavities.

  • Your child has bad breath.

You may not see this, but you’ll sure smell it. Even with a regular oral routine, your little one’s breath doesn’t quite get that minty freshness. That’s because of the excessive cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth, which is more prevalent in the early stages of tooth decay.

  • You see holes, chips, and cracks.

Holes are the biggest telltale sign of cavities in children. But dental caries also weaken the enamel and can make your little one’s teeth more fragile and prone to breakage. Because of this, chips and cracks can also be a sign of dental caries.

Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry Cavity Treatment

Of course, the best way to tell if your child has a cavity is with a visit to your local dental office. At Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry, our dentists have the experience and training to identify early signs of dental caries in your child’s teeth. Dr. Mo and Dr. G diagnose cavities after a careful oral examination of your little one’s mouth and check for early signs of decay using dental X-rays. Our dentists may then recommend a full spectrum of options based on the extent of the decay and your child’s oral history.

Cavity Solutions

Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry’s cavity solutions won’t just treat the current cavity, they’ll also prevent any more from forming. Here’s a glimpse at some of our treatment options for dental caries in children.

  • Composite fillings

If your child needs a filling, we offer mercury-free, white, tooth-colored composite fillings. Dr. Mo and Dr. G will closely match fillings to your child’s surrounding teeth. This method will prevent further tooth decay and protect your child’s smile.

  • Stainless steel crown

When the damage to teeth is extensive, a stainless steel crown may offer better protection.

  • Dental sealants

Children at high risk of developing cavities may benefit from cavity prevention treatments like dental sealants. This thin, protective coating applied to the molars and premolars doesn’t allow particles and bacteria to accumulate in the grooves of the teeth.

  • Fluoride treatments

Since dental caries weaken the enamel and make teeth prone to breakage, your child’s teeth can greatly benefit from fluoride treatments. It will help strengthen the enamel and, as a bonus, make it much harder for bacteria to erode the protective coating.

Spot cavities and protect your child’s smile.

While cavities in children are common, they’re not inevitable. With regularly scheduled visits to the Must Love Kids Pediatric Dentistry office, our dentists can spot tooth decay in the early stages and prevent cavities from developing. Contact us today, and we’ll help you protect the smile you love the most: your child’s!