Cavities In Children: What to Expect at the Dentist


Cavities in children is a widespread condition. The CDC shows that 20% of children between 5 to 11 years old will have at least one untreated cavity. But what causes cavities in children?


Cavities are holes in your child’s teeth that come from tooth decay. When you or your child eats sugars and starches, they need to maintain good oral hygiene. If not, those ingredients mix with bacteria in your mouth to form plaque. Over time, this plaque eats away at your teeth, causing cavities.


Are you concerned that your child has cavities? Read about diagnosis and treatments below.

How Do You Diagnose Cavities?


There are two main ways the dentist will check your child’s teeth for cavities. They can manually examine your child’s mouth or perform an X-ray.


The dentist will check if your child has any discoloration or soft spots on their teeth. During this process, they may ask you questions to help diagnose the condition. Some of these questions may include asking if your child feels pain or sensitivity to food.


If the dentist does an X-ray, they can spot discoloration as a sign of cavities. In dental X-rays, healthy tooth enamel will tend to be white. However, cavities show up as dark spots that disrupt the enamel color.

How Do You Treat Cavities?


Thankfully, there are treatment options for cavities in children.


To treat cavities, the dentist will remove the decayed part of the tooth. Then, they will do a filling in the empty space left behind. Some dentists will also call ‘fillings’ a ‘restoration’ instead. Dental fillings can be direct or indirect restorations.


In a direct restoration, the dentist fills the space with resin, acrylic, or another base. These materials will have a tooth-like color to blend in with your child’s natural enamel. In an indirect restoration, the dentist may use a steel crown or veneer to secure the tooth.


Sometimes, the cavity is so deep that it reaches the tooth pulp. Tooth pulp is the soft, living tissue in the core of your teeth. In these cases, the dentist will apply a local anesthetic to the area. Then, they drill through the damaged part of the tooth and remove the pulp. After, they will fill and seal the tooth with a crown. These crowns tend to be made of stainless steel and help the tooth regain its strength.


Stainless steel may look unattractive on front teeth. So, most dentists will only save for those cavities on your child’s baby molars. That way, the crown is hard to notice in the back of your child’s mouth.

How Do I Prevent Cavities?


Make sure your child brushes their teeth twice a day, especially before bedtime. Brushing at night ensures that your child won’t have any sugars left behind to develop bacteria or plaque. They can use a fluoride-based toothpaste, which helps prevent tooth decay.


Otherwise, consider limiting sugary foods in your child’s diet. Less soda, cereal, candy, milk, and syrups lower the chance of developing cavities.


Be sure to visit your dentist regularly so they can spot tiny cavities before they grow bigger. All these steps will contribute to fewer cavities in children and keep your child’s dental health in good shape.


Need a cavity filled for yourself or child? Our Kool Smiles Kids Club partner dentists have convenient locations to serve you. Contact us at 877-200-2064 or find one in your area!