The distance from the surface of a tooth to the nerve inside ranges from less than a millimeter to about one-quarter of an inch depending on the type of tooth. As bacterial acid in the mouth dissolves the enamel surface of the tooth it causes a growing opening which is called a cavity.
How fast this opening enlarges and travels a few millimeters depends on the amount of acid present, how intact the tooth has become as it has grown to adult size, how many surface defects there are, and how many scars, abrasions or fractures are in the surface enamel or dentin.
A person who can’t brush or floss, who accumulates acid-producing bacteria around the teeth, who does not use fluoride or oral calcium products, and who has stomach acid in the mouth from GERD or bulimia can grow cavities that invade the dental nerve in as little as three or six months.
It is not unusual, to see young people develop cavities from a lack of oral hygiene as soon as their teeth appear in the mouth. For some people the rate of decay is much slower, taking years or even decades to grow larger.
You would think that all cavities hurt, but strangely enough, some shallow cavities hurt, and some deep ones do not. That is why dental exams every six months and periodic x rays are important, to prevent small cavities from reaching the nerve and requiring a root canal or removal.
Prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to teeth, make sure you talk to your dentist about the many new technologies available (probiotics, liquid calcium, sealants, antibacterial mouth rinses and toothpaste with and without fluoride) as well as flossing and brushing methods that preserve teeth and prevent cavities.
For further information on keeping your mouth healthy and pain free, call Dr. Korwin’s Red Bank, Middletown NJ Dental office for an appointment at 732-219-8900 or fill in our appointment form.