How Long Does it Take for a Cavity to Form?

plaque buildup happens primarily in between your teeth and gumsWhen plaque is present, tooth decay can form, and over a long period of time, it creates a cavity.People don’t just develop a cavity overnight. It typically takes months, or possibly even years, for tooth decay to advance to a point where it requires attention. This is because the conditions that cause tooth demineralization, also known as, tooth decay is not present on a consistent basis.

The Cumulative Process of Tooth Decay

In order for tooth decay to happen there are a few things that have to be present at the same time: plaque and dietary sugars. Our teeth can often escape tooth decay by regular brushing and teeth cleaning. Why? The only time cavities are forming is when the sugars and plaque is present for an extended amount of time, with this being the case every time you rinse, brush, or get your teeth clean you stop the process of tooth decay.  However, the damage that was done while these were present doesn’t wash or brush away. Because of this, whenever those conditions become present again the damage picks up where it left off.

The photos above are diagrams that shows the process of tooth decay when the conditions are left present for an extended amount of time.

Starting Over

Another thing that helps slow down tooth decay is remineralization, this is the process that counter acts the damage from tooth decay.  When this happens the minerals found in things like your saliva, drinks, various food, and oral rinses fills in the area that has been damaged by tooth decay, and starts to reverse the tooth decay process. At this point the remineralization will totally repair the damage to the tooth.

The Tooth Decay Tug of War

The decay and repair process is fought on a regular basis. This tug-of-war happens several times throughout the day when we are going through the process of eating, drinking, and brushing our teeth. There are times when the remineralization process completely reverses the tooth decay process.

What You Can Do to Prevent a Cavity

You can help your teeth protect themselves from tooth decay with a few simple steps. We have all heard the golden rule of brushing your teeth after each meal, in the morning, and before bed. After reading this article you can understand why that is so important. The reality is the busy schedule of children and adults makes it impossible to stop and brush that many times, but the alternative to this would be to rinse with mouth wash or even water. Another step you can take is getting regular teeth cleaning. This is will help to clean off any plaque or other damaging material that brushing alone cannot remove. The recommended dental cleaning schedule is every 6 months.

Once you have reached the point of pain, and are needing medical attention, your tooth has been decaying for quite some time, and you have a cavity. Help eliminate the process by giving your teeth constant daily attention.

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