Tooth Decay In Children: Causes, Prevention & Solution

Milky sitting and hugging a tooth.

More Common Than You Think

As our little ones grow, so do their teeth – so we need to start thinking about the best way to protect them. Tooth decay leads to cavities (holes in the teeth) and is more common in children than you might think. It can raise real concern for parents. A survey from 2014 showed that around 12% of three-year-olds have tooth decay, with three teeth affected on average.

What Is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay is simply another term for damage to the tooth. It’s the main reason why children aged between five and nine years are admitted to hospital, and is the most common oral disease affecting children and young people in England. The good news is that tooth decay is often entirely preventable.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

Sugary foods and drinks are the main culprits of tooth decay. When you consume sugar, the plaque bacteria in your mouth turns that sugar into energy – but it also produces acids. These acids are potentially harmful to teeth because they can break down the tooth enamel (the hard, shiny, protective outer layer of the tooth). If plaque isn’t removed from your child’s teeth with twice-daily brushing, this is when cavities can begin to form.

How to Spot the Signs of Tooth Decay?

Your child might complain of a general toothache or tooth sensitivity (feeling tenderness or pain when they eat something hot, cold or sweet). However, in some cases, tooth decay might not cause any pain at all.


If you’re concerned your child may have tooth decay, you can also try taking a look inside their mouth to see if there is any discolouration (black, brown or grey spots appearing on the teeth), since this can also be a sign of decay.

What Are Tooth Decay Treatment Options For Kids?

There are several things you can do at home to help treat early tooth decay in your child. Ultimately, a good oral hygiene routine, paired with a healthy diet and regular visits to the dentist, will help to keep their smile healthy.

Lilly and Milky having fun during teeth brushing time.

Remember to:

  • Brush your child’s teeth twice a day (once in the morning and once before bed) for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste specifically developed for their age – such as Aquafresh Little Teeth toothpaste (3-5 years).
  • Limit your child’s consumption of sugary snacks and drinks such as cakes, squashes, fruit juices and fizzy drinks.
  • Take your child to visit the dentist for regular check-ups.

Little Teeth toothpaste is specially formulated by dental experts with cavity-fighting fluoride that kids need. It helps to strengthen teeth and keep cavities away.

How Can You Prevent Your Kids From Getting Rotten Teeth?

Unfortunately, the number of children aged five to nine years who are admitted to hospital due to tooth decay continues to rise. So it’s important to start treatment for your child as soon as you notice signs of decay, to help protect them from developing any more oral health issues. The best way to prevent tooth decay in your child is to encourage good oral hygiene from an early age – brushing their teeth twice-daily as soon as the first tooth appears (usually around six months old). Discover some easy ways to make brushing fun for your child with Aquafresh. According to the NHS, children under the age of 18 should have a check-up at least once a year, so make sure you book regular appointments. There is no cost for children’s dental treatments under the NHS.

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