Tooth decay (caries or cavities) in children


Tooth decay is a disease that causes the destruction of enamel, which is the hard outer surface of a tooth. As tooth decay progresses, it can attack deeper layers of a tooth, leading to cavities.

If a person does not receive treatment for tooth decay, it can lead to lớn more issues with the teeth & mouth. However, some treatments can help prevent or stop the spread of tooth decay.

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This article will cover the causes, symptoms, & treatments for a person with tooth decay.

Share on PinterestA person with tooth decay may experience sensitivity lớn sugary, hot, or cold food & drinks.
Tooth decay, also known as dental caries or cavities, is a disease that causes the breakdown of tooth enamel.

Once tooth decay has eroded the enamel, cavities can start khổng lồ form.

According lớn the American Dental Association (ADA), a tooth consists of three layers:

Enamel: Enamel is the hard outer layer that protects the inner layers of a tooth. Tooth enamel contains no living cells và is the hardest structure in the human body. Dentin: Dentin is the second layer of a tooth. When the enamel is damaged, it may expose the dentin. Small tubes within the dentin allow hot và cold food khổng lồ stimulate the nerves of the tooth. The stimulation of these nerves can cause pain and sensitivity in the tooth. Pulp: The pulp is the center of the tooth. The pulp contains blood vessels, nerves, & connective tissue.

Tooth decay can occur in varying degrees of severity. Damage from tooth decay can range from causing wear to lớn the enamel to painful abscesses within the pulp of the tooth.


Symptoms of tooth decay can vary depending on the severity of the damage caused.

According to lớn the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR), some people in the early stages of tooth decay may feel no symptoms. However, as tooth decay advances, a person may experience the following:

tooth sensitivity to lớn sugary, hot, or cold food white or dark spots on the teeth loose fillings cavities in teethfood frequently trapped in teethdifficulty biting certain foods

An article in the Journal of the American Dental Association (JADA) state that tooth decay occurs due khổng lồ a buildup of plaque on a tooth.

Plaque is a sticky layer of bacteria that forms on teeth. When a person eats sugary or starchy food, the bacteria in the plaque produce acids that attack tooth enamel.

Over time, these acids leach out minerals from teeth, erode the enamel, causing tooth decay, and eventually, cavities.

Tooth decay can affect people of any age. The Center for Disease Control và Prevention (CDC) estimate that around 20% of children aged 5–11 years have at least one untreated decayed tooth.

Older adults may experience gum recession, which is where the gums pull away from the tooth, exposing the root of the tooth.

Cementum, which is softer than enamel, covers the root of the tooth. The ADA indicate that this may make the tooth more susceptible lớn decay.

A person may have a higher chance of developing tooth decay if they:

have weak enamel due to lớn genetics or illness vị not brush their teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste

A dentist will be able khổng lồ recommend treatment for a person with tooth decay, depending on its severity.

Treatment for tooth decay can include:

Early-stage fluoride treatments

Fluoride is a mineral that can help strengthen enamel. A dentist can use fluoride in various forms lớn help stop và even repair the damage that has occurred due to tooth decay.

A dentist can apply professional fluoride treatments directly lớn the teeth.

These fluoride treatments are generally quick, taking only a few minutes. The fluoride comes in the khung of a gel, varnish, foam, or solution.

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When cavities occur from tooth decay, a filling can be a treatment option.

After drilling the tooth to lớn remove any decay, the dentist shapes the cavity to fit the filling.

The dentist then fills the cavity, using materials such as dental amalgam or composite.


According khổng lồ the ADA, larger cavities that occur due to lớn tooth decay may require a crown instead of a filling.

To place a crown, the dentist first removes the outer portion of the tooth, as well as any decay.

The dentist will take an impression of the tooth & fit a temporary crown until the permanent one is ready for fitting, usually 1–2 weeks later.

Root canals

A dentist can perform a root canal khổng lồ help prevent the need for extraction when the pulp of the tooth is damaged.

According to lớn the American Association of Endodontists (AAE), the dentist first numbs the tooth before removing the pulp. They will then clean & shape the root canal inside of the tooth.

The dentist may also apply medicine in the tooth khổng lồ get rid of any bacteria.

The dentist will then fill the root canals with a rubber-like substance and place a crown or filling on the tooth khổng lồ restore và strengthen it.

Tooth extraction

A dentist may recommend a person has a tooth extraction if the tooth decay has caused severe damage.

The dentist will first numb the damaged tooth. Once they have removed the tooth, the dentist will recommend a post-extraction regime.

A person may notice swelling or pain after a tooth extraction, which is normal. However, if a person notices any of the following symptoms, they should hotline a dentist or seek medical attention immediately:

fevernauseavomitingsevere pain, swelling, or bleedingpain that increases over time