How Long Does It Take a Cavity to Form?

Cavities, sometimes called tooth decay, are among the United States’ most common health problems. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, nearly 52% of children between 6 and 8 years have cavities. One in four adults between 20 and 64 has at least one cavity.

Sometimes it’s impossible to know if you have tooth decay without visiting the dentist. Several factors, including oral hygiene routine, can influence how fast a cavity forms. In this blog, we’ll explain how cavities form, the time it takes for a cavity to develop, and how to prevent cavities.

How Do Cavities Form?

A cavity is a portion of the tooth that has been affected by decay. If it isn’t treated, a cavity can form a hole and affect deeper layers of your tooth. Cavities don’t form overnight. They develop over time due to practices that contribute to compromised oral health, like consuming a diet rich in sugar or not brushing and flossing teeth properly.

Below is a series of stages of tooth decay that can lead to the development of a cavity:

  • Demineralization – This is the initial stage of tooth decay which occurs when your tooth is constantly exposed to acids that form bacteria. These acids make the enamel lose its minerals and break down.
  • Enamel decay – If you continue consuming foods with high acid levels, demineralization will continue, eroding the enamel over time. This will ultimately cause holes (cavities) in the teeth.
  • Dentin decay – Once a cavity has developed, it should be treated to prevent it from progressing. Failure to which the decay will advance to the dentin (the soft tissue below the enamel) of the tooth, leading to pain or sensitivity. Dentin decay can be restored by dental filling or crowns.
  • Pulp decay – The pulp is located beneath the dentin and contains blood vessels and nerves. Once a cavity touches the pulp, the decay accelerates, causing severe pain, swelling, and inflammation. A dental crown can help treat pulp decay.
  • Abscess – Untreated pulp decay can rapidly progress to the root canals beneath the tooth roots. The spread of bacteria inside the tooth can cause an infection, leading to unbearable pain and swelling. Sometimes, a root canal can save the teeth, but tooth extraction may be recommended in severe cases.

How to Prevent Cavities

Your oral hygiene plays a significant role in maintaining a brilliant smile. Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day for two minutes, and floss at least once daily. Keep a nutritious diet and drink plenty of water throughout the day. Chewing sugar-free gum can also reduce your chances of tooth decay. Lastly, be sure to visit your dentist regularly for routine checkups and cleanings.

Need to Learn More About Cavities? Contact Bravo Family Dentistry

At Bravo Family Dentistry, our Kyle dentist will be happy to answer all your questions about how to prevent tooth decay. Book an appointment online or call our Kyle, TX, office at (512) 537-4892 to discuss your dental needs with Dr. Dekow and see how we can help you prevent cavities and maintain a healthy smile.

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