Cavities can be scary for young kids, especially when they cause pain and sensitivity. You can set your child up for success by helping them maintain good oral hygiene habits. But even with the best efforts, cavities can still appear.
Knowing how to spot them is important.
Parents, keep an eye out for these 6 warning signs your child has cavities and then spring into action by calling your pediatric dentist.
Toothaches are one of the most common signs that your child may have a cavity – or that something is wrong. This pain can appear quickly and may actually be hard to pinpoint.
It is not unusual for kids to complain of jaw pain, ear pain, neck pain, or face pain rather than tooth pain. They hurt and knowing the source isn’t always possible.
Sometimes it comes on as a slight ache and then progresses and other times it appears at its worst. It is worth noting that most cavities come without toothaches, but not all of them.
2. Tooth Sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is often a sign of cavities. The sensitivity can arise with hot or cold food and drinks as well as sugar consumption.
The reason for this sensitivity is that the enamel has been infiltrated, exposing the tooth’s soft inner layers.
Most kids will complain of pain when the tooth is exposed to these varied temperatures or after eating a sweet treat.
Cavities can cause discolorations on a tooth’s surface. These often begin as small white dots. If not addressed, they will start to turn darker due to the spreading of decay.
A toothache may or may not be present — but monitoring teeth for these discolorations can help stop the cavity early. These white spots are also difficult to detect as there are normal color fluctuations in all teeth and there are some white spots that are not associated with cavities.
4. Visible Holes
As the discolorations are left, the decay continues to eat its way through the tooth forming a hole or pit within it. These are almost always visible to the naked eye. Look for them where the tooth meets the gumline, on the biting surface of the tooth, or between two teeth.
5. Pain When Chewing
Is your child complaining of pain while chewing? When a tooth has a cavity and becomes sensitive, biting down to eat can cause pain and make the entire experience uncomfortable. Depending on age this could also mean a baby tooth is loose.
Some kids are quick to complain about this while others will simply refuse to eat. If your child suddenly does not want to eat, there could be something going on with their oral health.
6. Bad Breath
When decay is present within the mouth, bad breath usually isn’t far behind.
If your child is brushing regularly and still manages to have bad breath, this could signal that decay may be eating away at their teeth. It is a good idea to take a thorough look – and book an appointment with the dentist for a checkup.
While it isn’t always possible to prevent cavities, you can take steps to reduce your child’s risk of getting them. Below are a few tips to help boost your child’s oral health.
- Encourage daily oral hygiene routines, brushing at least twice a day and flossing at least once. Brushing the teeth before bedtime is absolutely the most important time to brush.
- Staying hydrated with water
- Minimizing intake of sugary foods and sticky carbs (chips, crackers, etc…)
Most importantly, visit the dentist every 6 months for a professional cleaning and dental examination to stop cavities before they can form.
Pediatric Dental Care in Memphis
At Pediatric Dental Care of Memphis, we offer a comprehensive list of services, including preventative treatments, to help our patients maintain excellent oral health — free from cavities.
Frequently Asked Questions
When should children start seeing the dentist?
The American Academy of Pediatric Dentists recommends that children receive their first dental check-up by 12 months of age or within 6 months of their first tooth. Even if your child’s teeth have not erupted by the time they are 1 year old, book your appointment with a pediatric dentist.
What are dental sealants?
Dental sealants offer protection from cavities. A safe resin is applied to the surface of teeth, sealing off the tooth from cavity-causing agents like plaque and food. This is a proactive step in helping your child maintain good oral health.