Can My Cavity Heal or Will it Be a Dental Emergency Soon?

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I’m wondering how long it will take my small cavity to become a dental emergency, if it will at all. I went in for my checkup a few days ago and the hygienist noticed a small spot. The doctor later confirmed it was a cavity starting. However, I have been reading up on healing cavities and I want to try it on this one before I go in and have it filled. I told this to my dentist, but he said that it will continue to grow until I need a crown and possibly a root canal. I realize something like that doesn’t have overnight, so I’d like to test my theory for a while. How long can I safely try to heal my cavity without risking it growing too much?



Dear Liam,

There are lots of methods out there touted to help heal a cavity. Most involve oil or clay, taking extra vitamins and minerals, and changing one’s diet. Some even point to ancient societies and say they didn’t have decay. Unfortunately, there’s no scientific evidence to suggest this is even remotely true. Snopes has actually debunked healing cavities as a myth and it’s common knowledge that many ancient societies, including those in Egypt suffered from tooth decay and did somewhat modern repairs on their teeth as well.

That said, teeth are in a constant battle to stay strong, and sometimes they develop weakened areas of demineralization. These spots are white and, although they do usually become decay, they can sometimes be turned around with good home care and fluoride treatments. Some dentists call them “pre-cavities” and will fill them anticipating the decay, while others will do a watch-and-wait approach.

There’s no way to tell how long it will take for a precarious lesion to become a cavity, nor how long it will take for a small cavity to become a full-blown dental emergency. Your diet, care, and genetics will all play a role. Sometimes it can be a matter of months, while other times it can take a year or more.

If you question your dentist’s diagnosis, have the tooth checked out by another dentist and get a second opinion. If they both agree the tooth needs a filling, that’s your best bet. If you opt to ignore their advice, at least get it checked out every couple of months (or however often they recommend) to see how fast it’s growing. Best of luck to you.

This blog is sponsored by Elgin emergency dentist, Dr. Steve Sirin. Dr. Sirin offers same-day appointments for urgent needs, so people can feel better faster.

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