If your dentist has informed you that you have a cavity, how long can you wait to get a filling? While this is a common question among many patients, there is not a one-size-fits all answer. Not all cavities are created equal and how fast they progress or grow can be unique to each person. If your dentist suggests a filling to repair a cavity, however, there are risks in putting off the procedure. Ironically, patients who are trying to delay cavity repair and avoid the cost and time involved often end up far worse in terms of expense, time and even discomfort.
How Cavities Develop and Grow
Cavities, also called decay or caries, are formed when the bacteria in your mouth combine with sugars and food debris to form plaque. Plaque contains harmful acids that can eat away at the enamel of your teeth as it clings to the surfaces. The holes that are created when plaque dissolves enamel are referred to as cavities.
The process of decay does not happen overnight, but the timeline can be unique to each patient depending on the softness of their enamel, their oral hygiene habits and how much dietary sugars they consume. Realistically, it can take weeks, months or even years for a cavity to cause the type of damage that requires a filling or other restorative treatment from a dentist. This is why some cavities are so small that your dentist may simply want to “watch” them and not repair them right away.
The Size of the Cavity Can Determine the Type of Repair
It is not uncommon for patients to hear they have a small cavity that needs to be filled in the next few months. Such cavities are often minor and probably not producing pain, sensitivity or other symptoms. However, they can give patients the false perception that this cavity can wait until their next checkup or even be ignored. Waiting too long to fill a small cavity can mean the difference in a simple, one-surface filling and a more costly two-surface filling or even a dental crown. While you can certainly do your part to try and prevent fast cavity growth, there is no way to accurately determine how long it will take for your cavity to become large enough to warrant more invasive or costly repair.
Do you have a small cavity in your mouth that needs attention? Act sooner rather than later. If it is cost you are worried about, ask your dentist about insurance coverage or payment plans. At the office of Dr. Mitzi Morris, we want to restore your smile in the most conservative ways possible. Call today for cavity repair in Roswell.