How Fast Do Cavities Grow?

How fast do cavities grow and cause pain?

It can be hard to find out you have a cavity before it has already grown. The process of tooth decay is slow, and your tooth might not need attention right away. In order for the process to take place, there must be an acidic oral environment in the mouth – and that doesn’t happen very often. Therefore, it can be a while before any cavity is noticeable. But how fast do cavities grow?

How Fast Do Cavities Grow?

So, how fast do cavities grow, and how can cavities be prevented? These important questions are asked and answered by your local dentist in Riverside. Keep reading to learn more about the decay process and how to prevent permanent damage in your mouth.

Stages of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay happens in a series of stages, and not all at once. This is another reason why the decay process is so slow. The stages of tooth decay include:


The first stage is demineralization, which breaks down the enamel on your teeth. This happens when the teeth are exposed to acids, which can come from sugary or greasy foods.

Treatment: You can brush with fluoride-based toothpaste and continue good oral hygiene to reverse this damage and prevent further decay.

Dentin Decay

If the enamel has been fully decayed, the bacteria will start to go deeper into the tooth. It will then hit the dentin layer, which is the soft tissue in the teeth. This sensitive tissue will start to form a cavity, which may make the tooth sore or painful in the process.

Treatment: You will need to receive a dental filling, crown, or inlay to get rid of existing decay and prevent the spread.

Pulp Decay

If the cavity continues to grow until it reaches the pulp, which is beneath the dentin, it could lead to the spread of infection. The tooth will start to decay more rapidly at this point, which can be very painful and dangerous for the rest of your mouth.

Treatment: The only way to stop the decay from spreading is to receive a root canal procedure.


The final stage of decay is a dental abscess. The bacteria has spread beneath the pulp and into the roots of the teeth, causing an infection at the deepest point. This will create a pocket of pus that will grow until you feel unbearable pain or swelling.

Treatment: Abscesses must receive treatment immediately. They will result in tooth extraction if not treated.

How Fast Will My Cavity Grow?

The decay process can take months or even years to fully complete. There are different factors that can determine how fast cavities grow in your mouth. Depending on your diet and the location of the decay, you may have a chance to stop the spread of bacteria before it can do real damage.

  • The length of time it takes for cavities to grow can be changed depending on:
  • The location of the cavity and what layer of the tooth it is forming on
  • Levels of acid in the mouth
  • How many acid attacks the teeth have endured
  • The thickness of tooth enamel
  • Whether prevention measures have happened

In most cases, tooth damage caused by cavities can end up reversed. But only if you catch the decay in its early stages. Then it can be removed and replaced with a filling to stop its spread. You can also remineralize the teeth after lowering your mouth’s acid levels.

Prevent Cavities Today!

The most common treatment for a cavity is a tooth filling. At Star Dental Group Riverside, we offer tooth-colored fillings made from composite material to help your teeth look good as new. Reach out to our friendly staff members today to learn more about tooth fillings in Riverside and other options for cavity prevention. We look forward to helping you keep your mouth in good health!