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How Long Does It Take for a Cavity to Form?

Brown hourglass with sand flowing down to measure time

A cavity is no fun. Fortunately, the one good thing about them is that they take time to form, giving you the chance to stop early-stage tooth decay in its tracks. But just how much time do you have, and how can you be proactive about stopping cavities from forming?


Cavities don’t form over night. Instead, the process of decay is gradual. As the bacterial plaque in your mouth produces acid after eating your dietary sugar, that acid slowly eats away at your enamel, taking months or even years to cause the type of damage that requires a filling, crown, and/or root canal therapy from your dentist. But there are certain factors than can accelerate the formation of a cavity.

Weaker enamel, as in children under six years old, for example, is more susceptible to decay, and thus cavities form in less time. Poor dental hygiene, an unhealthy diet high in sugar and low in tooth-strengthening nutrients, tobacco use, and teeth grinding also also increase a tooth’s susceptibility to decay. But when you’re eating well, protecting your teeth with an athletic mouthguard and/or a nightguard, cleaning your teeth every day, exposing your teeth to enough fluoride, and visiting our office every six months for cleanings and checkups, you can help stop the progression of a cavity. However, if you begin neglecting proper oral healthcare habits, that decay gets right back on track to causing permanent enamel damage.

How to Put the Brakes on Decay

If you don’t have a cavity, keep up the good work! But if your dentist tells you that you do have a cavity forming, there are ways to stop early-stage tooth decay from progressing to a full-blown cavity. Whether it’s to stop or prevent decay, it’s so important that you learn the components of a healthy dental care routine, and that you stick to it each and every day.

  • Gently brush your teeth at least twice every day for two minutes each time with a soft-bristled toothbrush and fluoride toothpaste.
  • Floss between your teeth at least once a day.
  • Incorporate a fluoride and/or alcohol-free antibacterial mouthwash into your oral care routine.
  • Consider investing in helpful dental gadgets, like an electric toothbrush and water flosser, to spice up your routine, making it more effective and even more fun.
  • Only indulge in sugary or starchy foods in moderation, and don’t snack on them throughout the day.
  • Don’t constantly sip on a sugary, acidic soda. While it’s better to drink it all at once through a straw, it’s best to drink water instead.

We Can Help Keep You Cavity-Free Here at CarolinasDentist

There’s one more step that’s crucial to cavity prevention: a twice-yearly trip to our office for a <a href=””>professional dental cleaning and checkup</a>. At your regular visits, we’ll eliminate cavity-causing plaque and tartar, identify any early signs of decay, and give you the tools and knowledge you need to combat cavities. We look forward to seeing you at your next visit!

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