How Quickly Can A Cavity Form?

Apr 5, 2021

It’s impossible to know if your child has a cavity without visiting the dentist. With state-of-the-art offices in Mukilteo, Mill Creek, and Everett, Washington, the pediatric dentists at Stellar Kids Dentistry can tell right away if your child has a cavity that needs treatment. While most fully developed cavities need fillings, it doesn’t always have to get that far.

How long does it take for cavities to develop?

Cavities don’t develop overnight. It takes weeks, months, even years for a cavity to form. In fact, most cavities take around six months to five years to develop. If a cavity is caught early enough, you can actually reverse the damage to your child’s teeth. That’s why it’s important to schedule a dental exam with a kids dentist at Stellar Kids Dentistry at least once every six months.

Factors that influence cavity development

How long it takes for a cavity to fully form depends on a number of factors, including:

Cavity location

Enamel is a protective layer on the outside of your teeth. It’s the most durable tissue in the body. Underneath your child’s tooth enamel is a softer layer of dentin. Because enamel is so tough, it’s more difficult for cavities to form in this mineral-rich layer than it is in your child’s dentin.


Acids break down tooth enamel. If your child is consuming foods and drinks with high levels of acid, such as orange juice or soda, their enamel will start to break down. This leaves room for cavities to form in their dentin.

Enamel quality

Mineral-rich enamel provides a strong barrier against cavities. Strengthening your child’s enamel through fluoride treatments, like silver diamine fluoride (SDF), can help protect their permanent and milk teeth from cavities.

Enamel thickness

Thicker enamel is better at protecting against cavities than thin enamel. The team at Stellar Kids Dentistry will examine your child’s enamel during their bi-annual teeth cleaning and dental exam to determine whether supplementary treatments, like dental sealants, are necessary to protect against cavities.

Can you reverse cavities?

Believe it or not, tooth damage from cavities can be reversed in its early stages. The more minerals your child’s milk teeth contain, the stronger they are at protecting against cavities. This process is called remineralization.

How remineralization works

Infusing your child’s teeth with minerals, like fluoride, calcium, and phosphate, can help undo some of the damage caused by tooth decay. Talk to the Stellar Kids team to find out if your child can benefit from a fluoride treatment. 

Diet also plays a major role in tooth remineralization. Foods rich in calcium and phosphate, including milk, nuts, and beans, can help strengthen your child’s tooth enamel and protect against tooth decay.

How to protect against cavities

While tooth decay can develop at any time, preventing cavities from forming in the first place is the easiest way to protect your child’s oral health.

Tips to prevent cavities

Protecting your child’s teeth against cavities shouldn’t be difficult with these simple steps to prevent tooth decay:

Bring your child to see a children’s dentist at Stellar Kids Dentistry once every six months to prevent and detect tooth decay as early as possible.

For the best kids dentist to treat and prevent cavities, call Stellar Kids Dentistry or schedule an appointment online today!