Cavities in baby teeth

Here are a few reasons why cavities (or tooth decay) in baby teeth matter:

  • Cavities in baby teeth can start as soon as they come into the mouth and can get worse much faster than in adult teeth. 

  • Childhood cavities are 5 times more common than asthma.  In fact, 1 out of every 4 preschool children in the US has cavities. 

  • Baby teeth hold space for the adult teeth and are important for eating and speaking. 

  • Untreated cavities can lead to pain, infection, and difficulty with eating and sleeping. 

  • Cavities in baby teeth increase your child’s risk of cavities later in adult teeth.  

As illustrated above, children younger than 3 years should brush with a smear of fluoride toothpaste. Children 3-6 years should brush with a small peasize amount of fluoride toothpaste.

Like other chronic diseases such as asthma, some people just have a greater risk for cavities.  But cavities can be prevented.

  • Learn about your child’s individual risk for getting cavities from your dentist and get advice on how to prevent cavities or stop from getting new ones.

  • Brush your child’s teeth with a tiny smear of fluoride toothpaste as soon as they come in. Tooth brushing removes the sugars, acids and germs from the mouth.  Fluoride in drinking water and toothpaste can make the teeth stronger and harder to attack by acids.

  • Young children tend to eat more often than adults.  Limiting how often they snack and drink juice will reduce their risk of cavities.  

Filling the cavities

  • Fillings and crowns are often needed to restore teeth damaged by tooth decay.  However, it is still important to take good care of the mouth afterwards so that the teeth stay strong and future disease is prevented. 

  • Fixing the teeth will make the teeth look and work better, but children and adults who already have cavities have a higher risk of new cavities and broken fillings if the disease is not well controlled.

Evidence shows that parents who are active partners in their child’s dental health are more likely to have children who grow up cavity-free. It is less costly to prevent and manage problems early.