Welcome, Dr. Lauren Heisinger to the Where Smiles Grow Family. Click here to read more!

Specializing in dentistry for infants, children & adolescents.

The Truth About Cavities: Causes, Prevention, and Treatments

Cavities, a feared word at the dentist, means more than just potential dental discomfort for your child. While cavities are a common concern for parents, understanding them doesn’t have to be complicated. Our Where Smiles Grow team is here to explain what cavities are, how our kids can get them and prevent them, and how we can treat them!


Understanding the Causes of Cavities

Cavities, scientifically referred to as dental caries, are holes in teeth caused by decay. This decay can be a result of many factors, however, the primary culprit in cavity formation is plaque, a sticky film composed of bacteria that naturally forms on the teeth. When your child consumes sugary or starchy foods, the bacteria in plaque metabolize these carbohydrates, producing acids. These acids attack the tooth enamel, the protective outer layer of the teeth, leading to its erosion over time.


Poor oral hygiene practices can also work to exacerbate the formation of cavities. Inadequate brushing and flossing allow plaque to accumulate on the teeth, increasing the likelihood of acid production and enamel damage. Additionally, factors such as genetics, dry mouth, and certain medications can predispose children to a higher risk of cavities.


Effective Prevention Strategies

Preventing cavities starts with instilling good oral hygiene habits in your child from an early age. Here are some practical tips to help keep cavities at bay.


Establish a Consistent Brushing Routine

Encourage your child to brush their teeth thoroughly for two minutes, twice a day, using fluoride toothpaste. Emphasize the importance of reaching all surfaces of the teeth, including the front, back, and chewing surfaces.


Promote Regular Flossing

Flossing is essential for removing plaque and food particles from between the teeth, where toothbrushes cannot reach. Teach your child how to floss properly, using gentle, back-and-forth motions, or assist them until they can do it independently.


Limit Sugary Snacks and Beverages

Sugary foods and drinks provide fuel for the bacteria that cause cavities. Encourage your child to consume these items in moderation and opt for healthier snacks like fruits, vegetables, and dairy products.


Schedule Dental Checkups

Regular visits to the pediatric dentist are crucial for monitoring your child’s oral health and detecting any signs of cavities early on. During these checkups, the dentist can provide professional cleanings, fluoride treatments, and personalized advice on maintaining optimal oral hygiene.


Consider Dental Sealants

Dental sealants are thin, protective coatings applied to the chewing surfaces of molars to seal off the grooves and prevent bacteria and food particles from accumulating. Talk to your pediatric dentist about whether sealants are a suitable option for your child’s dental needs.


Exploring Treatment Options

Despite your best efforts, cavities may still occur. Fortunately, there are several effective treatments are available to address cavities and restore your child’s dental health.


Dental Fillings

Dental fillings are commonly used to repair small to moderate cavities. During the procedure, the decayed portion of the tooth is removed, and the cavity is filled with a durable material such as composite resin or dental amalgam.



In cases where cavities are larger or more extensive, a dental crown may be recommended. Crowns are custom-made caps that cover the entire tooth, restoring its shape, strength, and function.



If decay reaches the innermost layer of the tooth (the pulp), a pulpotomy, also known as a baby root canal, may be necessary to remove the infected tissue and preserve the remaining healthy pulp. This procedure is often performed on baby teeth to prevent further infection and pain.



In severe cases where a tooth is extensively decayed and cannot be saved, extraction may be the only option. However, this is typically considered a last resort, and dentists will explore all other treatment options before recommending extraction.


Contact Our Where Smiles Grow Team Today!

By understanding the root causes of cavities, implementing proactive prevention strategies, and seeking prompt treatment when necessary, you can help safeguard your child’s oral health and ensure they maintain a beautiful, cavity-free smile for years to come. Remember, our team at Where Smiles Grow is your partner in promoting excellent dental health for your child, so don’t hesitate to reach out with any questions or concerns.