How Do Kids Get Cavities?

If your child complains about a toothache, or hasn’t seen the dentist in a long while, then chances are a toothache could form and lead to negative impacts on his or her smile health. But how do kids get cavities? In today’s blog, your El Paso, TX, kids’ dentists explain how a cavity forms, and what steps can be taken to protect smiles from them.

The Foods and Drinks We Consume

Did you know sugary and starchy foods leave behind tiny particles that harmful oral bacteria can consume, a process that coats the teeth in a sticky bacterial byproduct known as plaque? Eventually, plaque can weaken and erode enamel, allowing bacteria to reach the inner layers of dentin and cause a cavity to form. In addition to sugary foods, drinks with lots of sugar or high levels of acids, such as sodas, fruit juice, sports drinks, and energy drinks, can also promote cavities. Try to encourage your child to enjoy more water, and offer healthier snack choices, such as fruit, veggies, cheeses, nuts, and sugar-free gum.

Poor Oral Health Habits

When people of all ages care for their smiles at home, this reduces how much plaque can accumulate on the teeth and removes stray particles of sugar and starch. However, lack of proper brushing and flossing means a greater likelihood of cavities and gingivitis. For infants and toddlers, you should clean their teeth in the morning and again at night using an age-appropriate toothbrush. Don’t let them nap with a bottle of milk or juice either, as this coats the teeth in harmful sugars. Older kids will need to brush twice a day and floss every night, just as you do. These steps can improve oral health, while avoiding brushing and flossing fosters an environment that allows tooth decay to thrive.

Damaged Teeth

What happens if your child chips a tooth? Even if the damage appears minor, you should still bring him or her in to see us for an exam. Sometimes, even minor damage could expose the inner layers of dentin or the pulp to harmful bacteria, allowing a cavity or infection to develop. If your child sustains an injury to the teeth but no damage is visible, consider an appointment anyway, as fractures are often invisible to the naked eye, but still dangerous for the tooth. We can often repair damage in a single visits with composite resin, either in a filling or bonding procedure.


At Sunny Smiles in El Paso, TX, we would love to help our patients avoid the onset of tooth decay. If you have questions about preventive and general dental care, then please call our East El Paso location on N. Zaragoza Road at 915-849-9000!