Tooth decay – Symptoms, Causes, Treatment and Prevention

Tooth decay or cavities are very common among kids and teenagers. Cavities are tiny openings or holes that develop in the hard surface of the teeth. Cavities are also called tooth decay or caries. The main cause of tooth decay in children is the unhealthy food habits.


  • Excess intake of sugary food
  • Retaining sweet food for a long time in the mouth
  • Bacteria in the mouth
  • Not keeping teeth clean

Symptoms of tooth decay or cavities:

  • Toothache, mostly spontaneous
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Mild to sharp pain when eating or drinking something sweet, hot or cold
  • Visible holes in the teeth
  • Brown, black or white staining on any surface of a tooth


Routine dental check-ups are very important because your child might not complain about the pain until the cavity has spread too much. So if your child feels fine about his/her teeth, take them for routine check-ups. In case your child experiences a toothache or mouth pain, see your dentist at the earliest. The dentist will suggest the treatment for your child depending on the intensity of the tooth decay. Your child’s dentist may suggest one of the following:

  1. Early stage treatment: If the tooth decay gets detected in its early stage, a fluoride treatment can restore the tooth enamel and prevent further decay.
  2. Tooth fillings: A dentist uses a drill and removes decayed material from the tooth. The dentist will then fill the tooth with a substance, such as silver, gold, or composite resin depending on what is appropriate.
  3. Crowns: For more severe decay, the dentist will place a custom-fit cap over your child’s tooth to replace its natural crown.
  4. Root canal: When tooth decay causes the death of your nerves, the dentist will perform a root canal to save the tooth. They remove the nerve tissue, blood vessel tissues, and any decayed areas of the tooth. If there is any infection, the dentist will apply a medication. Finally, they fill the tooth and place a crown on it. Root canals are usually very painful hence it is better to take precautions early on.


  • Reduce the frequency of sugary acidic foods, limiting it to mealtimes.
  • Opt for fresh fruit instead of dried fruits which are high in sugar.
  • Avoid feeding drinks containing sugars, including fruit juices, between meals.
  • Choose to give water or milk over sugary drinks.
  • Avoid adding sugar to their drinks/food while introducing your baby to solid food.
  • Avoid giving sugar-laden processed baby food.
  • Cleanse baby’s teeth regularly to help prevent cavities.
  • Ask them to gargle regularly and drink enough water.
  • Develop the habit of brushing the teeth twice a day.

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