What Puts Children at Risk for Cavities

September 1, 2020

Dental caries, or as sometimes referred to as tooth cavity is the damage to one’s tooth enamel. It usually happens when a patient’s mouth is full of acids that attack the tooth’s surface or enamel. This condition is prevalent among children and youths. If not treated, it leads to pain, infections, and sometimes tooth loss.

What Causes Tooth Decay/ Caries?

A human mouth is usually full of bacteria, some of them helpful while some are harmful; for example, the ones that cause tooth decay. The bacteria combine with the food remains on your child’s mouth and forms plaque.

The bacteria in the plaque/tartar use the sugar in the drinks and foods that your child takes and makes acids. These acids begin to eat away minerals in your child’s enamel. With time, this plaque hardens to become tartar, which is even tougher to eliminate. In addition to damaging your kid’s enamel, tartar also irritates gums and can cause periodontitis.

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is the key to preventing caries, but it is always not enough. That’s where pediatric dentistry comes in. A pediatric dentist can help your child grow caries-free and improve her general oral health.


A patient’s signs and symptoms for caries vary, in most cases, depending on the location and extent of the cavities. In the beginning, your child may not exhibit any symptoms, but with time she might experience symptoms such as:

  • Toothache without any apparent cause
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Visible pits in your child’s teeth
  • Pain when she bites down
  • Black, white, or brown staining on your child’s tooth surface

Risk Factors

Anyone with teeth is at risk of developing cavities, but the risk varies from one individual to another. Most children are at risk of the same but some more than others. These factors can increase the risk.

Tooth Location

In most cases, cavity attacks the back teeth since they are the ones used for chewing food. Also, they have lots of crannies, pits, grooves, and multiple roots that make it easy for them to collect food particles. They are also harder to reach while brushing, making it challenging to keep them clean.

Consuming Certain Foods and Drinks

Foods that cling to one’s teeth for a long time, e.g., ice cream, milk, dried fruit, sugar, candy, chips, and cookies, are more likely to cause dental caries than foods that can be washed away by saliva with ease.

Frequent Sipping and Snacking

If your child takes sugary drinks and snacks steadily, she gives her mouth more bacteria to make acids that will attack her teeth. Also, sipping acidic drinks such as soda plays the same role. Discourage your kid from taking acidic drinks and make sure she takes snacks only when necessary.

Bedtime Infant Feeding

Giving your infant a bottle of milk or juice before she sleeps sounds like a great idea, but it is not. These beverages remain on the teeth while the child is asleep, which increases cavity-causing bacteria in her mouth. This type of decay is usually called bottle tooth decay. Such damage can also happen if your child regularly drinks beverages from Sippy cups.

Inadequate Brushing

The most common cause of tooth decay among children is poor oral hygiene. It is challenging for children to maintain proper oral hygiene by themselves, and this leads to plaque formation, which leads to tartar and then caries. Your child should brush her teeth after every meal, if possible, or at least twice a day.

Insufficient Fluoride

Fluoride plays a major role in preventing caries, and if your child gets the right amount, the risk of cavities decreases drastically. A pediatric dentist can help your kid with fluoride treatment and even place sealants on her teeth for even more protection.

When to See the Dentist

It is almost impossible to know when cavities begin to form. That’s why it is paramount to ensure that your child regularly visits the dentist for checkups, professional cleanings, and guidance. She doesn’t need to be in pain for you to take her to the dentist. However, if your child is in pain, visit your dentist ASAP.

Islands Pediatric Dentistry

Do you require a pediatric dentist in Gilbert, AZ? Well, you are in the right place. With 7+ years of experience, you can trust us with your kid, and we assure you quality services. Book an appointment today.