Cavities are the most common dental problem in the world. Unfortunately, they’re even more common amongst kids. 

It can be difficult to spot a cavity. Many times, cavities go unnoticed until tooth decay has already begun. So, how do you spot a cavity?

The good news is, the warning signs for cavities are pretty noticeable. They’re also easily preventable with proper, routine dental care.

Here’s everything you need to know about cavities in kids. 

Warning Signs of Cavities

When it comes to your child’s oral health, there are a few signs you should be on the lookout for. Usually, your child will make it obvious that something isn’t quite right.

Emergency dentistry for kids doesn’t have to be a hassle. But, it should be taken care of as soon as possible to prevent further damage. 

Some warning signs you should pay special attention to include:

Complaints of Tooth Pain

One of the most obvious symptoms of a cavity is persistent tooth pain. If your child begins to complain of a toothache, it may be time to look for a pediatric dentistry practice. 

Pain is most commonly reported while chewing or just after eating. However, your child may also experience pain between mealtimes. 

You should always keep a close eye on any reports of toothaches. If the pain persists for several days, it’s definitely time for a dental visit. 

Tooth Sensitivity 

Teeth shouldn’t hurt when eating hot, cold, or foods. If they do, that may be a sign of tooth decay.

If your child begins avoiding favorite foods, such as ice cream or sweets, it may be a sign that a cavity is present. 

Cavities weaken the outer layer of the tooth, known as the enamel. This exposes the inside of the tooth, meaning hot or cold temperatures can easily reach the nerves. 

If tooth sensitivity is located in one specific area of the mouth, you’re probably dealing with a cavity. But, tooth sensitivity is usually a good reason for dental care, no matter where it’s located. 

Surface Discoloration or Spots

You should perform a visual inspection of your child’s teeth, especially if they complain of pain or sensitivity. If a cavity has progressed enough, you might be able to spot it.

Cavities first appear as white, chalky spots on the tooth’s surface. These spots will begin to turn black as the decay progresses. In some cases, the entire tooth may become discolored.

Not all cavities are visible. Some could be in between teeth or deep in the tooth. If your child has any other symptoms, but you can’t see any damage, you should still schedule an appointment with a pediatric dentist. 

Holes or Pits on Tooth Surface

When cavities are left untreated, they begin to eat away at the tooth itself. This creates holes, pits, cracks, or chips on the surface of the tooth.

When performing a visual inspection, keep an eye out for any of these signs. If you notice any holes, it’s definitely time to schedule with the best pediatric dentist.

Fussiness or Trouble Focusing

Behavioral changes in your child may also be a sign of a dental emergency. When a child is dealing with consistent toothaches, they’ll likely find it difficult to focus on anything else. 

If you notice excessive crying, fussiness, irritability, or difficulty concentrating, you might want to perform a visual inspection of the teeth. 

Treatment Options

Let’s say you’ve found a cavity. What kind of options can you expect your dentist to use to treat it? How is sedation dentistry for children used? 

Because cavities are common dental problems, there are a few different options for treatment. These options include:

Dental Fillings

When a child has one or more cavities, they’ll likely be treated with dental fillings. These are the most common treatment option for cavities. 

With this treatment, the decayed part of the tooth is removed. Composite resin will fill the hole left behind. In most cases, the resin will be tooth-colored, ultimately restoring your child’s smile. 

Dental fillings improve the teeth’ appearance, but they also stop the progression of decay. This will prevent it from getting any worse or spreading to neighboring teeth. 

Tooth Extraction

If tooth decay is an advanced stage, your dentist may recommend a tooth extraction. This is used most commonly on baby teeth. 

Usually, tooth extraction is a last-resort treatment. Generally, a dentist for kids will only extract if decay is beyond help. This is because extracting baby teeth too early could lead to orthodontic problems later on down the line. 


Much like a root canal, a pulpotomy is used when decay has reached the tooth’s inner pulp. Typically, this type of procedure is only done on children. 

Pulpotomies will remove a small portion of the inner pulp. It’ll then be filled with a medicated packing material and covered with the same composite resin as a tooth filling. 

Preventing Cavities

Generally, the best way to prevent cavities is with proper dental care. This includes routine dentist visits and cleanings, proper brushing, and a well-rounded diet.

It is recommended that you assist your child with tooth brushing until they’re about six. This will ensure proper brushing, which helps keep the teeth clean. 

Your dentist can also do a few specialty preventative treatments. These include special sealants and varnishes that protect hard-to-clean areas of the tooth. 

Routine Dental Visits

Routine visits to your dentist are always the best line of defense against any dental problems. In these visits, your dentist will look for any cavities. If spotted, they can treat them quickly and easily, which stops them from getting worse. 

Children should visit their dentist for a check-up and cleaning every 6 months. Your child should begin visiting the dentist either after the first tooth appears or at the first birthday, whichever comes first. 

Proper Dental Care Starts Here

You may be wondering “how do I find a great pediatric dentist near me?” Well, look no further. Our office can help make sure your children’s teeth remain healthy and protected.

Contact our office today to schedule your routine dental visit or emergency dental care. Preventative dental care is the best way to keep your child’s mouth clean!