After you've made it through those rough teething days and nights, you finally get to see your little one's sweet smile full of pearly whites. If you want to keep that little smile healthy, it's important to know the signs of baby tooth decay in case you need to take action.
Erin Issac, DMD, tells Romper that the "gradual process" of tooth decay (technically called "caries") will ultimately lead to holes in the teeth known as cavities. This decay is a result of "bacteria in the mouth [attaching] to tooth surfaces... [and releasing] acid which dissolves tooth structure," Kevin Donly, DDS, tells Romper. Dr. Issac says this acid is produced when the mouth's natural bacteria metabolizes "sugary or high carb foods" as a source of fuel. This is why dentists urge parents to limit their child's exposure to things like sugary juices.
In order to understand what tooth decay looks like, it's important to first understand what a healthy baby tooth looks like. Rocky Napier, DDS, tells Romper that "newly erupted teeth are generally relatively white, have smooth surfaces, are shiny in nature, and appear to have a normal shape and consistency." Dr. Issac adds that they might even have a "slightly more translucent or even gray appearance towards the edge of the tooth."
Unfortunately, Dr. Donly says there is no way to tell whether or not your baby will have tooth decay "until the teeth erupt into the oral cavity." So, it's a wait and see situation. Once the teeth have come in, whether it's only a few teeth or a full smile, there are some telltale signs of decay.