What Causes Pediatric Tooth Decay? A Comprehensive Guide
What Causes Pediatric Tooth Decay? A Comprehensive Guide


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Tooth decay is a serious health concern that affects children in particular. There are many factors that can cause pediatric tooth decay or cavities. Also known as cavities or dental caries, it is one of the most common chronic conditions. It happens when tooth enamel, which is the protective layer on your child’s teeth, gets eaten away by acid-producing bacteria and sugars found in food. 

This article will break down exactly what causes tooth decay in children so you can help prevent it beforehand.

Causes of Pediatric Tooth Decay

Factors like brushing, types of food consumed, and poor oral health hygiene can cause tooth decay in children. But what are some major causes? 


Approximately 80% of girls experience tooth decay by the time they reach 14 years of age. Of these, 40% of these girls will have cavities in their front teeth. However, boys can also be susceptible to tooth decay, but less than 20% experience it by the age of 15.


Some studies show that genetics also play a significant role in causing cavities among kids. Some oral health problems in children related to genetics are saliva composition and susceptibility to oral infections. If either parent lost a permanent tooth at an early age due to decay or gingivitis, then there is a greater chance that their children could experience the same thing during childhood or adolescence.


In addition to plaque buildup from poor dental hygiene habits and genetics, teeth are also prone to decay if they do not receive enough fluoride. Fluoride strengthens tooth enamel and helps the surface resist erosion.

Pregnancy Medications

Medications taken by the mother during pregnancy have also been known to cause teeth damage to children if not monitored carefully. 

Sugary Food Intake

Further, poor eating habit is another cause of tooth decay in children. Snacking on certain kinds of food with high sugar contents can increase the chances of cavity development. Sugar has been noted as one of the most critical ingredients in bacterial plaque formation on teeth. So it is vital for children to avoid sugars after meals or snacks. 

Symptoms of Pediatric Tooth Decay

Some common signs that indicate a child may be suffering from tooth decay are:

  • Sensitive teeth
  • Discolored teeth
  • Loose teeth
  • Tooth sensitivity when eating warm or hot foods
  • Bad breath or discoloration on the tongue
  • Possible around teeth and gum
  • Cavities along the sides or top front of the mouth

If your child experiences any of these symptoms for two weeks or more, don’t delay. It is important to consult a dentist near you as soon as possible.

What Causes Pediatric Tooth Decay in Babies?

Kids can have dental problems right from infancy as well. When babies use bottles containing anything besides water while sleeping, it can cause early tooth decay problems. Infants have very effective sucking reflexes, which allow them to extract milk from a bottle with ease. However, the sugars found in milk and formula stick to the infant’s teeth for many hours. Saliva cannot wash it away because babies produce less saliva in sleep.

So, try using the bottle only when they need it. Also, encourage infants to drink from a cup when they are around six months old. This way, they won’t become dependent on it and have teeth exposed for too long.

How To Prevent Pediatric Tooth Decay in Children?

Following a healthy lifestyle is very important for children as it can help avoid tooth decay problems and develop good dental hygiene habits. There are many things that parents can do to encourage proper oral health. Here’s what you must do to protect your kids from dental problems:

Encourage to Brush

If your kid is fussy about brushing, advice them that it takes only two minutes to brush teeth. Some brushing habits can be harmful, though. Children must avoid brushing too aggressively or using too much force because it can cause tooth abrasion and pain. Brushing too aggressively may also end up wiping away some of your enamel.

Feed Healthy Snacks to Prevent Pediatric Tooth Decay

Make sure to restrict the snacking of sugary foods and drinks throughout the day. Providing healthy snacks such as fruit instead of sweets is beneficial for decreasing acidity levels in the mouth that can dissolve tooth enamel over time. Also, encourage your child to drink water throughout the day instead of sugary drinks.

Pediatric Tooth Decay – Final Words

Make sure your child practices good oral health habits from an early age. The longer you overlook these issues, the more difficult it will be to treat the problem.

Also, don’t forget to schedule a regular appointment with the kid dentist near you. If not considered, these risks can lead to permanent dentition damage that will require more corrective measures than just preventive care.

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