Is It Normal for a 3 Year Old to Have Cavities?

October 30, 2023 12:03 pm

A brunette mom and dad snuggle their smiling toddler daughter

By the age of 3, children should have 20 baby teeth, known as primary teeth. However, they are still in the early stages of their dental development. Their baby teeth will start falling out in a few years as their underlying adult teeth push through. Around age 12-13, your child will have a set of 28 permanent teeth.

Even though your child’s baby teeth will eventually fall out, good oral health habits when they are young are still highly beneficial! For example, healthy baby teeth allow your child to learn to properly chew and speak. Plus, establishing a daily habit of brushing and flossing now will help keep their future adult teeth healthy.

While cavities in young children are not uncommon, they are not considered normal or unavoidable!

Factors Contributing to Early Childhood Cavities

In many cases, cavities can be prevented with the right precautions. Some factors that contribute to the development of cavities in children of preschool or elementary-school age include:

  • Sugary Diet – Diets high in sugary snacks, chips, crackers, candy, juices, and sweetened beverages can increase the risk of cavities. Young children usually enjoy these types of foods and drinks over more healthful foods, like vegetables.
  • Inconsisent Oral Hygiene – Toddlers may resist parents brushing and flossing their teeth. Young children tasked with cleaning their own teeth may do it insufficiently due to issues with dexterity or attention to detail. Poor brushing and flossing allow plaque to accumulate on teeth, which can lead to cavities and gum disease.
  • Bottle or Sippy Cup Use – Putting a child to bed with a bottle or sippy cup containing milk or other sugary liquids coats their teeth in sugar overnight, promoting cavity formation and bad breath.

How to Prevent Cavities in Young Children

Here are some ways you can help your child prevent tooth decay:

  • Dietary Choices – Limit sugary snacks and drinks in your child’s diet. Opt for water or milk as the primary beverages, and choose healthier snacks like lean meat, yogurt, cheese, eggs, fresh fruits, and vegetables.
  • Oral Hygiene – Assist your child with daily brushing their teeth using a fluoride toothpaste. Children under three years old only need a dab the size of a grain of rice. Children older than three can use a pea-sized amount. Make it a fun and engaging activity to encourage good oral hygiene habits.
  • Regular Dental Checkups – Take your child to the dentist by their first birthday or once their first tooth emerges. Continue taking them every six months for regular dental checkups to help prevent, identify, and address any dental issues early. Amber Hills Dental offers relaxing children’s dentistry and family block appointments for your convenience!

Children’s Dental Care in Henderson, NV

While it’s not normal for young children to develop cavities, it’s not uncommon due to factors like a sugary diet and poor oral hygiene. However, with proper preventive measures and early intervention, you can help your child maintain good oral health and prevent cavities. To learn more about how to care for your child’s smile, please contact our dentist at Amber Hills Dental in Henderson, NV!


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