The ABCs of Kids’ Cavities: Understanding Causes, Prevention, and Treatment


Did you know that according to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Dentistry, by age 5, around one in four children will have at least one cavity? That’s a staggering statistic, and it highlights the importance of understanding cavities in children. For parents, familiarity with cavities empowers them to protect their children’s smiles and ensure a lifetime of good oral health.

In this blog post from Dentistry For Children, your trusted pediatric dentistry firm serving Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Hansville, Silverdale, and nearby locations, we’ll explore the causes, prevention, and treatment of cavities in kids.

What Are Cavities?

Cavities are decayed areas on the teeth, also commonly referred to as dental caries, and they are formed as a result of the build-up of a sticky film of bacteria forming plaque on the teeth, which is not cleaned or removed. These bacteria break down some of the sugars in the foods and beverages we take, releasing some acids that dissolve tooth enamel. In the long run, cavities can cause discomfort, infection, and eventual tooth loss if it is not restored.

Types of Cavities

There are three main types of cavities that can affect kids’ teeth:

1. Smooth surface cavities:

These cavities appear on the occlusal, facial, and tongue surfaces of the tooth—that is, any smooth surface of the teeth, including the mesial and distal surfaces of the anterior and posterior teeth. According to the leading children’s dentistry experts in Seabeck, they’re most commonly precipitated by snacking and consumption of sweetened beverages.

2. Pit and fissure cavities:

These cavities develop at the pits and fissures on the biting planes of the teeth. Those regions are usually unconventional and closely held, making it almost impossible to clean them effectively so that no food particles and bacteria can lodge there.

3. Root cavities:

In the case of root cavities, small holes form on the sides of teeth exposed to the root surface, often resulting from disease or improper brushing techniques. They’re found mainly in older children and teenagers, especially children ten years of age and above.

Causes of Cavities in Children

Several factors can contribute to cavities in kids. Here are the four most common ones:

1. Diet and Sugar Intake:

Excessive consumption of sweets and processed, sugary products is the main cause of tooth cavities in kids. When children consume sugary substances, the bacteria in their mouth produce acid that attacks tooth enamel. Frequent snacking throughout the day, especially on sugary snacks, can also increase the risk of cavities.

2. Poor Oral Hygiene:

Flossing daily and brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste in the morning and evening is the key to scraping off the plaque and bacteria in the teeth. Leading children’s dentistry specialists in Port Townsend reveal that if children fail to brush their teeth and floss, plaque piles up on the teeth, resulting in tooth decay.

3. Bacterial Influence:

The mouth is naturally home to a variety of bacteria. While some bacteria are harmless, others can contribute to tooth decay. The presence of certain strains of cavity-causing bacteria can increase a child’s risk of developing cavities.

4. Genetics and Medical Conditions:

There is obviously a relationship between genetics and a child’s predisposition to developing cavities. Some children may inherit weaker tooth enamel or a higher susceptibility to certain types of bacteria. According to the top children’s dentistry professionals in Port Hadlock, certain medical conditions, such as dry mouth, can also make children more prone to cavities.

What Do Dentists Do for Kids with Cavities

If your child has a cavity, early detection and treatment are crucial. Here are two important questions to consider:

Are Kids Cavities Fixable in Early Stages?

Cavities usually develop slowly, but if identified early, they can be reversed with good oral hygiene and proper diet. Fluoride treatment can also improve tooth enamel and prevent further cavities.

Are Kids Cavities Reversible?

Unfortunately, once a cavity has progressed beyond the early stages, it will not go away on its own and will require professional treatment to prevent further damage.
If your kid suffers from early signs of cavities or requires professional assistance, feel free to reach out to our Dentistry For Children team. Contact us at (360) 377-3844(BREMERTON ) or (360) 876-9507(PORT ORCHARD) for an accurate estimate.

Prevention of Cavities

The good news is that most cavities are preventable! Here are some key strategies Dentistry For Children, your trusted pediatric dentists in Bremerton, Port Orchard, Gig Harbor, and surrounding areas, recommends to help prevent cavities in children:

1. Healthy Diet Choices:

Ensure your kid avoids consuming excessive amounts of sweets and sticks to healthy and well-balanced food involving fruits, vegetables, and grains. It benefits one’s teeth and general health by offering nutrients that lead to healthy teeth. If they are taken, offer them meals since this will help reduce acid production.

Additionally, leading children’s dentistry experts in Port Ludlow reveal that the correct order is that water should be the drink of choice when consuming beverages, as it aids in rinsing the mouth to remove more food debris and moisten the mouth.

2. Regular Dental Check-ups:

Schedule regular dental check-ups and cleanings for your child, typically every six months. These visits allow our expert dentists at Dentistry For Children to identify and address any potential problems early on, preventing cavities from developing or worsening. Contact us at (360) 377-3844(BREMERTON ) or (360) 876-9507(PORT ORCHARD) to schedule an appointment with our team today.

3. Fluoride Use:

Fluoride is an important mineral in the formation of bone and teeth and can reduce the incidence of dental cavities. According to the top pediatric dentists in Seabeck, most public water supplies are fluoridated, but if your child drinks primarily bottled water, talk to your dentist at Dentistry For Children about fluoride supplements. It’s completely safe for children above the age of two, but be careful to monitor them as they start brushing their teeth to avoid using more than the recommended quantity of toothpaste, which is a pea-sized amount.

What Happens if You Don’t Fix Child Cavity?

Leaving a cavity untreated can have serious consequences for your child’s oral health. Here’s why early detection and treatment are so important:

1. Treatment of Cavities:

Timely diagnosis can enable simple procedures such as filing to fix the tooth and stop the decay progression. At Dentistry For Children, our experienced dentists use gentle techniques and kid-friendly approaches to make treatment as comfortable as possible for your child.

2. Early Detection:

During regular dental check-ups, dentists can identify cavities in their early stages when they are often symptomless. Leading pediatric dentists in Bainbridge Island also reveal that early detection allows for prompt treatment and minimizes the risk of complications.

3. Common Treatment Options:

Depending on the severity of the cavity, different treatment options may be necessary. Here’s a breakdown of some common procedures:

a. Fillings:

Fillings restore decayed tooth structure. At Dentistry For Children, we use composite fillings that closely mimic the color of a tooth and do not raise any eyebrows. The process is generally not very painful, so it may take only one visit.

b. Crowns:

If a large portion of the tooth structure is lost, then a crown is often needed to regain the required strength to bite and chew effectively. Crowns are artificial replacement caps that are cemented directly on the tooth and are fabricated to the client’s individual specifications.

c. Root canals:

If the condition has progressed to the stage where the decaying process has reached the core of the tooth, known as the pulp chamber, then a root canal procedure might be necessary.

Furthermore, top pediatric dentists based in Gig Harbor reveal that a root canal procedure involves cleaning out the infected pulp and filling it to save the tooth.

4. Advanced Treatment Techniques:

Kitsap Pediatric Dentistry stays at the forefront of dental technology, offering advanced treatment options for children’s cavities, including:

a. Laser dentistry:

Laser technology can be applied to some operations, and this may be better for some children due to less painful sensations.

b. Minimally invasive techniques:

Our dentists at Dentistry For Children will always try to avoid invasive procedures if the situation allows in order to save as much of the tooth as possible.

Final Takeaway

Cavities are a common problem in kids, but early identification plus proper management can go a long way in helping address the issue. By establishing good oral hygiene habits early on, providing a healthy diet, and scheduling regular dental check-ups at Dentistry For Children, your trusted pediatric dentists serving Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Hansville, Silverdale, Belfair, Bremerton, Port Orchard, Kingston, Port Townsend, Port Hadlock, Port Ludlow, Seabeck, Gig Harbor, and surrounding locations, you can help your child maintain a healthy smile for life.

For a personalized assessment of your child’s oral health and to discuss preventive measures or treatment options for cavities, schedule an appointment with Dentistry For Children today! Our well-trained staff will be glad to offer professional dental services to kids in the Kitsap Peninsula. We look forward to helping your child achieve a healthy and beautiful smile!

To schedule an appointment with our team today, contact us at (360) 377-3844 (BREMERTON ) or (360) 876-9507 (PORT ORCHARD).


1. At what point can’t a cavity be fixed?

In a very severe state of the cavity in kids, when most of the tooth has been eroded, the affected tooth may not be salvageable and, therefore, must be pulled out.

2. How painful are fillings for kids?

Modern pediatric dentistry serving Bainbridge Island, Poulsbo, Hansville, Silverdale, and nearby locations provides ways and methods of treatment that will reduce the pain when filling a cavity. At Dentistry For Children, we follow similar techniques and make sure the child feels at ease while we perform the procedure.

3. Can you fix a cavity without removing it?

During the first stage of the cavity, remineralization with fluoride treatment could halt the process. Nevertheless, if the condition has reached an irreversible stage, the pediatric dentist will have to remove the decaying material and place fillings to fill the resultant gap.

4. Is it possible for cavities to heal on their own?

No, cavities in kid’s teeth cannot heal on their own. Once tooth enamel breaks down due to acid erosion from bacteria, it cannot regenerate. Early intervention is crucial to prevent further damage and the need for more extensive treatment. For professional assistance, feel free to reach out to our team at (360) 377-3844(BREMERTON ) or (360) 876-9507(PORT ORCHARD).

5. How can parents support children emotionally through baby teeth loss?

Losing baby teeth is a natural part of development, but it can still be a cause of anxiety for some children. Here are some tips to help:

a. Explain the process:

Talk to your child about why baby teeth fall out and how permanent teeth will grow in their place.

b. Use positive reinforcement:

Do not frown at your child when they lose their teeth; instead, appreciate them as part of the child’s growing process.

c. Address any fears:

If your child is anxious about losing teeth, talk to them about the process and assure them that it won’t hurt.

d. Make it fun!

The “Tooth Fairy” concept can help calm a child’s fears and provide pleasant feelings associated with losing teeth.

What role does genetics play in baby teeth loss timing?

Genetics can play a role in the timing of baby teeth loss, but it’s not the only factor. Nutrition and overall health can also influence when teeth fall out. If you have any concerns about the timing of your child’s baby teeth loss, consult your dentist at Dentistry For Children.