Kids and Cavities: What Every Parent Needs to Know

It’s time for your child’s teeth cleaning and at the end, the dentist tells you “Your child has a cavity”.

These are the words no parent wants to hear. 

Let me tell you, it’s even worse when you’re a mother AND a dentist. As a kid, I had a lot of dental issues. This is actually one of the reasons I chose to become a dentist. It’s also the reason I vowed to never “let my kids” have cavities. Every night, I stood over my kids like a drill instructor, making sure they brushed every surface of every tooth. From their first teeth, I inspected their teeth regularly for cavities.

On a side note, I recommend bringing your child to the dentist as soon as the first baby tooth appears.

One night I was inspecting my daughter's teeth and noticed her molars were growing in…

But Houston… we had a problem!


They weren’t the same color as her other baby teeth. Her molars were growing in with dark brown spots. My immediate thoughts were what? Why? How could she be born with a cavity? How could her brand-new tooth grow in with a cavity? All my dental training, education, and experience was playing over and over in my head.

Did I miss something?! Did I miss the class where they talked about baby teeth coming in with cavities?

I decided to bring her to my dental office in Manhattan so I could get a better look. My heart dropped when I felt the sticky cavity on her molar. Nooo! I did everything right! She doesn’t even know what candy is! As a mom, I thought I had failed in the dental department, so I did what any dentist would do and tried to assess the cause of the cavity in her brand-new teeth.

It turns out, my daughter had enamel hypoplasia. In plain English, this happens when a tooth grows in with weak enamel, or in worse case scenarios, no enamel at all. Research points to the early use of antibiotics as a cause of enamel hypoplasia. I thought back to all the times my daughter was sick or needed medicine, and she did take antibiotics once early in her life, so it made sense.

The silver lining is that treatment is simple when these types of cavities are caught early. A sealant (if there is no decay) or a filling usually takes care of cavities caused by enamel hypoplasia.

But you have to catch it early!

Obviously it is easier for me because I’m a dentist and I  used to work in a pediatric dental office before starting No Limits Dental in Midtown, NYC. When I worked there, I would see hundreds of kids a month. 

I recommend inspecting your child's teeth and mouth every night after they brush their teeth. You might need a flashlight to get a good look. Inspect for signs of buildup, puffy or bleeding gums, and of course, dark spots on their teeth. You are the first line of defense when it comes to preventing cavities. If you do see dark spots or areas that look suspicious, call your dentist and schedule an appointment as soon as possible.

As soon as I confirmed my daughter had cavities, I filled them right away. When it comes to kids and the dentist, the key to success is early appointments, no waiting, lots of storytelling, and fast treatment. I do this every day for the kids that come and see me at No Limits Dental.

Today, my daughter's fillings are still holding strong. This is important because baby molars are expected to last until age 10 or more.

I write this blog for all the parents out there who felt bad or disappointed that their kids had cavities. It’s probably not your fault and it's not your kid’s fault. Sometimes kids are just born with weaker teeth. You don’t have to worry though, with the right dentist, it can all be managed with simple, easy treatments. Make sure your little ones see the dentist every 6 months and make sure you check their teeth, gums, and mouth regularly after brushing.