Parenting Health

Tooth Decay (Cavities) Signs, Causes & Prevention Remedies in Children

Urvashi Shah
1 to 3 years

Created by Urvashi Shah
Updated on Jun 02, 2021

Tooth Decay Cavities Signs Causes Prevention Remedies in Children
Reviewed by Expert panel

Nothing brings joy to a parent than seeing his/her child smiling and laughing with the pearly sets shining bright within. But does this shine scare you of the possible cavities that your child might incur due to his/her eating habits? If yes then you are not alone as a number of parents worry about the same. The pearly whites can lose all their shining glory the moment cavities set in and hence as parents you must be careful about maintaining your child's oral hygiene. Let us consider everything regarding your child's milk teeth, cavities and the signs and symptoms of the same.

Milk Dentition

During infancy, your child will begin to get his/her first set of teeth, which are known as milk teeth. This process of teething will cause discomfort to your child and even fever at times. But you must be careful as even milk teeth are likely to catch dental caries or tooth decay if they aren't looked after carefully. Your child's milk dentition is essential for his/her development as it helps with his/her speech, ability to eat, and facial appearance. Milk teeth allow for space for adult teeth and help them grow and develop healthily. If a child experiences loss of milk teeth early, permanent ones end up overcrowding the mouth which will cause you to visit the dentist a number of times. So be careful about your child's dental hygiene right before he/she starts teething.

Child Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a disease where acids produced by bacteria in the mouth damage the enamel of the teeth. These bacteria reside in dental plaque causing the tooth enamel and the underlying dentin to soften, resulting in progressive damage, and the conclusion is a hole or a cavity in the tooth. You tend to blame yourself if your child gets cavities and even blaming on not coping up with brushing his/her teeth on a regular basis and even wrong eating habits. But apart from these reasons, your child may also get cavities through germs from your mouth when you share a spoon or a glass or a cup with him/her.

Signs Of Tooth Decay in Children

Every child might show varying signs of tooth decay, here are a few signs to recognize cavities in your child's teeth.

  1. Changes in the color of the tooth. Your child might get a cavity where his/her tooth can show a black spot
  2. Pain while biting into food or eating
  3. Bad breath

Causes Of Tooth Decay in Children

There are several reasons for tooth decay in children. Some of them include.

  1. Food: Just chocolates and sugary eatables do not have a significant role to play causing cavities in your child's teeth. Anything and everything your child eats can result in tooth decay. Children who eat often are more prone to cavities than those who don't
  2. Beverages: Juices, soft drinks, and even milk can result in tooth decay. If your child drinks these frequently, his/her teeth are likely to get coated with the same, which will result in acid producing bacteria that will settle in the nooks and corners of the mouth, leading to cavities
  3. Medical conditions: If your child suffers from chronic allergies, he/she may resort to mouth breathing, which reduces the flow of saliva. When saliva flow decreases, it augments the chances of cavities. Also, inhalers for asthma can also cause tooth decay

Preventing Tooth Decay in Toddlers

  1. Don't let your child have a bottle of milk in his/her when he/she falls asleep
  2. Encourage your child to drink milk or juice from a cup rather than sipping it slowly as it will minimize the exposure of teeth to decay-causing sugar present in the beverage
  3. Brush your child's teeth twice a day with pea-sized toothpaste that you can have recommended from your dentist
  4. Brush your child's teeth after he/she consumes any sweets
  5. Avoid giving your child sugary foods and fruits which contain a high amount of acid content
  6. Don't use fluoridated toothpaste until your toddler is two years old and teach him/her to spit out the toothpaste rather than swallowing it
  7. Encourage your child to drink water during meal times rather than sipping on juices

Some More Tips to Prevent Tooth Decay in Children

  1. Supervising your child's eating habits: Your child must surely love to gorge on sugary foods but frequent indulgence in the same should be avoided. On special occasions, you can allow your child to indulge in it but in a limit
  2. No sugary drinks: Keep your child away from sugary drinks as it will only produce more acid-causing bacteria in the mouth, which will lead to decay. Water is the best substitute to treat thirst
  3. Limiting snacks: Do not allow your child to eat more snacks between meal times as it will increase the number of acid attacks on his/her teeth leading to decay
  4. No eating/drinking after brushing: Make it a strict rule for your child to not eat or drink anything other than water after brushing his/her teeth at night. Also, make it a habit to brush his/her teeth twice a day
  5. No avoiding dental check-ups: Frequent dental visits must be paid in order to determine your child's oral hygiene. The dentist will also clean up any plaque from your child's teeth if found

Natural Remedies For Tooth Decay In Children

  1. Clove: Close is used by dentist too and hence you cannot go wrong with this remedy as it has analgesic, anti-inflammatory, and anti-bacterial properties which will help alleviate the pain if your child suffers from the pains of tooth decay
  2. Salt water mouth rinse: This is also an effective remedy where you can add a teaspoon of salt in water and ask your child to swish around in his/her mouth, focusing more on the area of decay and spit it out. It can ease inflammation, prevent the proliferation of bacteria, reduce pain and help with the infection
  3. Turmeric: Turmeric has curcumin which has anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties that can keep gums healthy and prevent dental decay. Gently massage the turmeric paste on the affected tooth to ease the pain
  4. Cinnamon oil: Cinnamon oil is effective in killing cavity-causing bacteria and hence can be used after diluting it in some water. Ask your child to rinse his/her mouth with this solution and spit out the same. [Also Read5 Foods To Be Avoided When Your Baby Is teething]
  5. Garlic: Your child will not like the smell of it but this remedy is a useful one in treating tooth decay. Crush about three to four cloves of garlic to make a paste with a quarter teaspoon of rock salt and apply on the affected tooth and let the paste sit for about 10 minutes. Then get your child to rinse with some mouthwash


Teach your child the importance of taking care of his/her teeth right from the beginning. You too can set a good example in front of your child by being a role model when it comes to oral hygiene. Modern lifestyle and eating habits are also responsible for tooth decay. You can do regular visits to your pediatric dentist along with a few home remedies to treat the cavities.

This content has been checked & validated by Doctors and Experts of the parentune Expert panel. Our panel consists of Neonatologist, Gynecologist, Peadiatrician, Nutritionist, Child Counselor, Education & Learning Expert, Physiotherapist, Learning disability Expert and Developmental Pead.

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| Jan 27, 2018


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| Aug 30, 2018

Thank you for the tips on natural remedies. My son has sensitive teeth and I just switched our dental insurance provider through Insurance Line One and I have been learning more and more on what to do to help his oral health.

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