Nearly everyone has a not-so-fond childhood memory of going to the dentist for a filling. Cavities are a fact of life for kids since they love chowing down on sugary foods and hate brushing their teeth. Finding those cavities in between dentist visits can be a struggle, though. Sometimes you won’t spot them when you check your child’s teeth and your kid might not even complain about pain at all! Be on the lookout for these telltale signs that your kid has a cavity.

1. They’re Extra Cranky

Cavities can hurt, and kids who are in pain tend to act out. Even if your child isn’t old enough to tell you that chewing hurts, they’ll tell you by crying and screaming around dinnertime. Even a very communicative child might not mention their teeth hurt when they eat, but eventually that pain will wear on their ability to control their temper. If temper tantrums are worse after meals, check for a cavity.

2. They Complain about “Tingling”

Sometimes cavities don’t produce pain, but a tingling sensation. This is a sign that the pulp, or the inner tissue, of a tooth is damaged. According to Pedodontic Associates Inc, the most common reason for pulp issues is an existing cavity. If your child complains about tingling or just that their teeth “feel weird,” take them to see a dentist as soon as possible before it becomes painful.

3. They Stop Eating Sugary Foods

If your child used to have a huge sweet tooth and is now avoiding sugary foods, it may be because of a cavity. Sugar doesn’t just help cause cavities, but it can irritate ones that already exist. Ask your child why they don’t like eating their favorite foods anymore—if it’s because it hurts, head to the dentist.

4. There are White Spots on Their Teeth

This one might seem counterintuitive. We typically think of a cavity as a dark spot or a hole in the tooth. However, a spot with a white or a chalky appearance is a sign of mineral deficiency in the tooth. This mineral loss often signals or leads to cavities and should always be examined by a dentist.

Cavities happen, but it’s important to make sure they’re taken care of before they become worse. If your child is displaying these signs of having a cavity, always consult a dental professional. Don’t wait for your child’s scheduled appointment!

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