Many patients have been putting off their six-month dental cleaning even though they may have spotted a cavity or may feel teeth pain. This post is to remind everyone of the value of making sure to not wait too long in between dental cleanings. As a reminder, we do more than just clean. During the appointment, we review your oral hygiene habits, check the health of your gums, we make sure your teeth are not chipped, and we remove tartar and plaque. Regular dental cleanings help make sure cavities don’t form and avoid the need for a deep cleaning. Let’s review how long it takes for a cavity to develop.
How Long Can I Wait To Fill A Cavity?
We know that cavities don’t just form overnight; in reality, it can take a few months or even possibly a year before the tooth decay advances to a point where the cavity will need attention. During the dental exam, we review daily brushing and flossing regimen to determine your risk of tooth enamel erosion. Tooth enamel protects your teeth from everyday use, such as chewing, biting, crunching, and grinding. This enamel can chip and crack and or erode from acids that eat away at the teeth. If you are drinking too many soft drinks, the high levels of phosphoric and citric acids can begin to erode your enamel.
Be proactive: Early-stage tooth decay can be fixed when it’s detected early enough, which is why it’s so crucial to visit your dentist every six months for an exam.
Every Cavity Is Different
Adults have 32 teeth, which means a cavity on your molar might develop differently than a cavity on your incisor. Since you have various teeth in your mouth, the time it takes for a cavity to form varies. Some people have softer tooth enamel than others, which makes it easier for bacteria or acid to penetrate the tooth.
As a broad timeline, on average, it can take anywhere from six months to four or five years before a cavity needs treatment. The conditions of your mouth change daily. A cavity can start to form, then not have the right conditions to develop ultimately. However, that cavity won’t just disappear; your dentist will be able to catch that slow forming cavity and correct the issue.
Understanding The Factors That Come Into Play
Various factors can significantly affect the time it takes for a cavity to develop. The most common factors that can increase or lower the rate in which cavity forms include:
- Cavities will start to develop when acid levels in the mouth increase.
- Allowing plaque to form and stick, allowing the acid in the plaque to remove minerals from your tooth.
- Multiple small acid attacks. Your teeth are robust, but with numerous small acid attacks, eventually, a cavity will form.
- The location of where the cavity is forming is also essential to understand. Enamel is tough and comprised of minerals, which means it will take longer for a cavity to develop in enamel than in a tooth’s dentin.
- The density of the tooth enamel is also key. Cavities can form quicker near the gumline because tooth enamel is thinner near the gum line.
- Enamel with lots of minerals will take longer to get a cavity than enamel with fewer minerals. A diet rich in vitamins and minerals can naturally strengthen your enamel.
Cavity Prevention Tip
You can protect your teeth from tooth decay by following these simple guidelines:
- Pick the right toothbrush nd gently brush your teeth twice a day. Brush for a full two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Make sure to floss once a day.
- Include a fluoride mouthwash into your oral care routine.
- Do your best to avoid sugary and starchy foods, and avoid frequent snacking.
Having regular teeth cleanings and exams every six months is necessary to eliminate cavity-causing plaque and tartar. During these exams, your dentist will be able to identify any early signs of tooth decay and give you the tools and knowledge to combat cavities. Contact Tompkins Dental to schedule an appointment for a routine dental cleaning and exam.
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