Toddlers & Cavities

It is not uncommon for toddlers to develop cavities in their baby teeth. 42% of children aged 2 to 11 will develop at least one cavity. Your child’s first visit to their pediatric dentist should occur by the age of one or by the time their first tooth erupts, whichever comes first. It is important for you to know the signs and symptoms of cavities in your baby so that you can seek treatment as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

How do I know if my toddler has a cavity?

There are a few visual signs you can be on the lookout for. An early signifier of tooth decay is white spots on the teeth but that does not mean that a cavity has developed. When a cavity first forms, it will be a light brown color, turning a deeper shade of brown as it worsens.

If your child complains of any symptoms, take them to their dentist as soon as possible. Your toddler may exhibit symptoms of a cavity which include:

  • Sensitivity to hot, cold, and sugar
  • Discomfort or pain around the affected tooth

How do toddlers get cavities?

Our mouths have naturally occurring bacteria and if that bacteria accumulates every time, it creates an acid that erodes enamel. When the enamel is worn, a small hole in the tooth is left behind, a cavity.

There are certain habits that put your child at a higher risk for tooth decay including:

  • Poor oral hygiene - Proper brushing and flossing removes bacteria as well as food debris.
  • Poor diet - Bacteria convert sugar into acid so eating a diet high in sugar or starches that get broken down into sugars can linger on the teeth and create tooth decay.
  • Low fluoride intake - Most cities put fluoride in the drinking water which helps strengthen a tooth enamel.

How are cavities in toddlers treated?

You may think it is not important to have your toddler‘s cavity fixed since those teeth will fall out anyway but this is not true! Decay in baby teeth can spread to the underlying adult teeth and cause further problems in the future. Most cavities in toddlers can be fixed with a simple composite filling, which can be completed in one visit.

Pediatric Dentists and their staff are experienced in treating small children and know how to put them at ease during treatment. If you are concerned that your child will be distraught, speak with their Dentist to learn how you can help prepare and soothe your child for dental treatment.

How can I prevent cavities developing in my toddler's teeth?

Prevention is key for oral care for everyone so there are a few ways you can combat cavities from developing in your toddler’s teeth.

Teach them proper oral hygiene as early as possible. As soon as your child’s teeth start to come in, you should be cleaning them with water, incorporating a fluoridated toothpaste when their Dentist advises, usually around the age of 2. You’ll have to clean their teeth for them as soon as they are interested, help them brush their teeth themselves.

Do not let your toddler go to bed with a bottle. If they do need a bottle to go to sleep, only give them water to avoid any sugars sitting on their teeth all night. Once they are eating regular food, keep their diet healthy, low and sugary and starchy foods. When they do have a sweet treat, brush their teeth afterwards.

Engaging your child with their Dentist as soon as possible will help them understand that it is a normal event and not anything to fear. It is important to maintain regular visits to their Pediatric Dentist as soon as their first tooth erupts or by the time they are one.

Age Limits for Pediatric Dentists