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What Causes Cavities in Children?

Female pediatric dentist with mother and child.

Tooth decay is the breakdown of the enamel on a tooth. Enamel is the tooth’s outer surface, and decay in this area will create tiny holes called cavities.

Many parents are often mystified by what causes cavities in toddlers. After all, a young child’s diet is generally limited. Tooth decay results from bacteria that naturally occurs in a child’s body, mixing with foods high in carbohydrates. Foods such as raisins, fruit, cookies, cereals, candy, and bread are in this category. The same is true for many drinks, including milk, fruit juice, and soda. Bacteria that live in the mouth combined with these foods to create plaque. The plaque sticks to the teeth and slowly eats away at the tooth enamel, ultimately causing cavities. Plaque is the culprit for what causes cavities in baby teeth!

Why Are Children at Risk for Cavities?

What causes cavities in children? It’s a combination of food and oral hygiene habits. Increased risks can be contributed to:

  • Consuming food and drink high in sugars (candy, juice) and starches (bread, cookies)
  • A water supply that isn’t fluorinated
  • Infrequent or inadequate tooth brushing
  • Insufficient saliva in the mouth

What Causes Cavities in Toddlers and How are Cavities Diagnosed?

Tooth decay is what causes cavities in children, and the speed of that will vary from child to child, but there are ways for a dentist to diagnose it. When you bring your child in for their first dental visit, this is what the dentist will do:

  1. Collect a medical and dental history.
  2. Provide a thorough examination of the teeth and mouth.
  3. Discuss the importance of dental x-rays and take x-rays of the teeth and jaw.

Mother playing dentist with her daughter to develop good dental habits.

What Causes Cavities in Baby Teeth and How Can I Prevent It?

Plaque buildup is what causes cavities in children, and it can be prevented by following these simple steps:

  • Start an infant oral care routine as soon as the first tooth appears.
  • Make sure your child brushes their teeth and tongue when they wake up and before bed. Help them until they develop the necessary coordination.
  • If your child is under three years, use a trace amount of toothpaste. After three years, the amount of toothpaste used should be the size of a pea.
  • Start the flossing habit after age two.
  • Limit snacks that are high in sugar or starch.
  • Schedule dental cleanings every six months.

Don’t Delay! Make an Appointment Today

The reasons for what causes cavities in children are straightforward and easy to prevent. Being aware of food choices and starting good oral hygiene habits can help to keep tooth decay away. Scheduling routine dental care also ensures that plaque and tooth decay are stopped before causing more significant damage.

Call today to schedule a dental exam with our pediatric dental specialists at Tooth Fairy. We’re always happy and available to answer any questions you may have about preventing cavities. Tooth Fairy Pediatric Dental has several convenient locations in the Reno Nevada area and offers Saturday appointments. Complete our Contact form or call us at 775-800-4117.