Being one of the most common reasons to visit your dentist, cavities are something that nobody enjoys having but will likely experience at least once in their lifetime. Caused by a combination of factors such as bacteria, frequent snacking, drinking sugary drinks, and lack of proper oral hygiene, cavities can often be treated using a filling. However, if left untreated long enough, cavities can lead to more serious issues, such as toothaches, infections, and even tooth loss. Understanding how cavities form and what to look out for is crucial in ensuring that your teeth stay healthy for years to come.
We’ve highlighted a few facts about cavities that are important to know, such as how long it takes to get cavities, how to prevent them, and how they are treated.
How Long Does it Take to Get Cavities?
With cavities being so common among people both young and old, you might find yourself asking how long it actually takes for cavities to form. While we know how cavities form, there isn’t actually a clear answer when it comes to how long they take to form because it depends on several different factors, such as:
- How frequently your teeth are exposed to acid
- Health and thickness of tooth enamel
- Location of the cavity
- Levels of acidity in the mouth
In many cases, cavities can take years to form, however oral hygiene plays a large role in this. If oral hygiene is poor, cavities can sometimes form in months, rather than years. The good news is that there are symptoms of cavities that you can watch for, such as sensitivity to hot and cold, sensitivity to sweets, and tooth pain.
How Are Cavities Treated?
There are several different ways in which a cavity can be treated, depending on the severity of the cavity. Minor cavities can usually be treated with a filling, which will remove existing decay and stop the progression of decay into the tooth. For larger cavities that require extensive removal of parts of the tooth, a crown might be required to provide proper support and prevent the decay from spreading. If the tooth decay reaches the pulp of the tooth, it can cause permanent damage to the nerve endings inside the tooth and could require a root canal for proper treatment. In the rare instance that a cavity is so bad that the tooth cannot be salvaged, the only form of treatment is to extract the tooth. The good news is that with proper oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist, many cavities can be caught early on and are easy to treat.
How to Prevent Cavities
While cavities are common, they can be prevented. Ensuring that you are practicing proper oral hygiene, such as brushing your teeth with a fluoride toothpaste after eating and drinking and flossing regularly are an easy way to keep cavities at bay. Taking the time to rinse your mouth thoroughly with mouthwash is also a great way to loosen any stubborn pieces of food that may try to stick to your teeth, which can also help to prevent cavities. Seeing your dentist regularly for routine cleanings and oral exams with x-rays is another great way to prevent cavities, and your dentist will be able to catch cavities early on and ensure they are treated before they can get any worse. Instead of reaching for a sugary snack or drink, consider a more tooth-friendly snack, such as fresh fruits and vegetables to help keep food particles from getting caught between your teeth.
You might not be able to pinpoint exactly how long it takes for a cavity to form, but through proper dental hygiene and regular trips to your dentist, you can help keep cavities at bay and keep your smile bright and white for years to come!