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Dental Caries In School Aged Children

AMBULATORY CARE:

Dental caries

are also called cavities. Cavities are caused by bacteria. The bacteria mix with carbohydrates (sugar) from foods and create acids. The acids break down areas of enamel, which covers the outside of a tooth. This creates a small hole in the tooth called a cavity.

Symptoms of dental caries:

Your child may not have any symptoms if the dental caries have just started to form. When the dental caries reach deeper parts of your child's tooth, he or she may have pain. The pain may get worse when your child chews or eats hot or cold foods.

Seek care immediately if:

  • Your child has severe pain.
  • Your child has swelling in his or her jaw or cheek.

Contact your child's healthcare provider or dentist if:

  • Your child has a fever.
  • Your child's tooth pain gets worse.
  • You have questions or concerns about your child's condition or care.

Treatment:

  • Fluoride treatments may be given to prevent more decay. Your child may be given fluoride treatments during dental visits, or he or she may use products with fluoride at home. Fluoride can be found in the form of a mouth rinse or gel. Your child's dentist will tell you what kind of fluoride to buy and how to use it.
  • A filling may be placed in your child's tooth after the decayed portion is removed. The filling may help to protect your child's tooth from more decay.

Help prevent dental caries:

  • Bring your child to the dentist 2 times each year. A dentist can find and treat problems early. This may help prevent dental caries. The dentist can give your child a fluoride treatment to help prevent cavities.
  • Teach your child to brush and floss his or her teeth. At 7 or 8 years, your child should start caring for his or her own teeth. You may need to help your child brush and floss until he or she can do it properly. Ages 8 to 12 are a good time for your child to practice a healthy tooth care routine. He or she will continue the routine as an adult.
    • Use a small amount of fluoride toothpaste.
    • Brush for 2 minutes, 2 times each day. It may help to play a song that is at least 2 minutes long while your child brushes. You should only need to do this until your child is used to the time.
    • Have your child spit the toothpaste out after brushing. He or she does not need to rinse with water. The small amount of toothpaste that stays in your child's mouth can help prevent cavities.
    • Your child will also need to floss 1 time each day.
  • Provide healthy foods and drinks to your child. Choose foods and drinks that are low in sugar. Read food labels to help you choose foods that are low in sugar. Limit candy, cookies, and soda.
  • Limit fruit juice as directed. Fruit juice is high in sugar. Offer fruit juice with meals, or not at all. Do not give your child fruit juice in a cup he or she can carry around during the day. Limit fruit juice to 4 to 6 ounces a day.

Follow up with your child's healthcare provider or dentist as directed:

Schedule checkups and cleanings with your child's dentist every 6 months. The dentist will tell you if your child needs to come in more often. Write down your questions so you remember to ask them during your visits.

Further information

Always consult your healthcare provider to ensure the information displayed on this page applies to your personal circumstances.

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