Cavities are holes in the teeth caused by tooth decay. Tooth decay occurs when cavity-causing bacteria in the mouth turns the simple sugars that you consume into harmful acids, which work to break down tooth enamel. If the tooth decay progresses enough, it will result in cavities that affect both your tooth enamel and dentin. They can eventually penetrate so deep that they cause toothache, infection, and tooth loss.

Children are at especially high risk for developing cavities because of diets that are high in sugar and because of less-than-perfect dental care habits. This makes it all-the-more important for you to monitor their dental health and to schedule regular visits to the dentist for your children. So how do you know if your children are beginning to develop cavities in their teeth? Here are some telltale signs.

Pain while chewing

Does your child complain of experiencing pain while chewing, particularly pain in a certain area of the mouth? This could mean that your child has a cavity in one of the teeth in that area.

Tooth sensitivity when eating certain foods

Sometimes the sensitivity that comes along with cavities is only noticeable when eating certain foods. Does your child experience pain or a tingling sensation when eating particularly hot or cold foods? Or perhaps the tooth sensitivity only occurs when eating particularly sugary foods? This is another early sign of cavity development.

White spots

White spots or chalky areas on the teeth are an early sign of mineral loss in your child’s teeth. Inspect your child’s teeth regularly to ensure that they are free of these white spots.

Dark spots

As tooth decay progresses, a tooth with a developing cavity will have dark areas, or the entire tooth may become darker.

Holes, chips, or cracks

Holes are, of course, a telltale sign of a cavity. But cavities also work away at the underlying foundation of the affected tooth, making the tooth more brittle and prone to breakage overall. Look for chips and cracks in addition to holes in your child’s teeth.

The best way to know if your child has a cavity, of course, is to schedule an appointment with your child’s dentist. Your child’s dentist can probe your child’s teeth, look for soft spots, and take X-rays in order to locate those hard-to-find cavities that sometimes hide between the teeth.