How Long Can You Wait To Get A Dental Filling? 

Many patients don’t like the dentist, so it’s understandable if they want to put off having a cavity filled. But this can be a bad idea, as you will find out below. 

All Cavities Are Different

Every adult has 32 teeth. That means that a cavity in a wisdom tooth may look and act differently than one on an incisor. Because there are many types of teeth, the time required for the cavity to grow can vary between weeks and months. 

Also, some patients have softer tooth enamel, so it’s easier for acid and bacteria to break down the tooth. 

Many dentists report it can take six months to a few years before a cavity advances to where it needs a filling. Remember that the conditions in the mouth change every day, based on what you eat, drink, and other factors. 

That cavity in your molar may begin to form and then stop because the bacteria doesn’t have the conditions needed. But the cavity that started will always be there, so it’s always a good idea to have a six-month dental check-up and cleaning where your dentist can fill the cavity before it gets worse. 

Factors That Affect Cavity Formation 

As we said above, there are several factors that influence how long it takes for the cavity to get bigger: 

  • Cavities form when the acid level in your mouth rises. So, it’s smart to brush at least two times per day and rinse your mouth out with water after eating and drinking. 
  • Letting plaque form on the teeth lets acid eat away minerals on the teeth, so brushing and flossing daily are vital steps to avoid tooth decay. 
  • If acid is left on the teeth often, especially overnight, even the strongest teeth will eventually get cavities that get worse and need treatment. 
  • Where the cavity is also affects how long the cavity takes to form and when treatment is needed. For example, dental enamel is one of the toughest substances in the human body and it takes months for the cavity to form there. But once the cavity reaches the dentin, the decay accelerates. 
  • Tooth enamel density also matters. Cavities can form faster along the gumline because your enamel is thinner there. 
  • Enamel that contains a lot of minerals is stronger. Your teeth will be tougher if you eat a diet with lots of vitamins and minerals. 

When Have You Waited Too Long To Fill A Cavity? 

Many of us don’t like the dentist and dread the drill. So it’s understandable if you want to delay filling a cavity, but it’s never a good idea. Even if the cavity doesn’t hurt, it is getting worse and getting closer to the dentin of the tooth every day. 

As the months go by, the cavity gets deeper and eventually gets to sensitive nerve endings. Once this happens, you will notice pain when eating or drinking on that side of the mouth. 

Waiting months can result in decay reaching the tooth nerve, which is very painful. If you delay too much, a filling may not suffice. This is when a root canal is needed. While a modern root canal isn’t painful for most people, it’s a more involved procedure and much more expensive than a simple filling. 


Most dentists say you should have a filling done as soon as the dentist notices the cavity. This prevents the cavity from getting deeper and getting to the dentin and nerves. 

However, if cost is an issue, you may be able to wait a month or two without adverse consequences. Just understand that you’re taking a risk that the tooth could break down faster, resulting in immense pain and a root canal. That would be a case of a stingy person paying twice! 

Fortunately, as long as you take care of a cavity within a few weeks, it can be filled quickly and affordably with a regular dental filling. 


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