One thing no one wants to hear in a dentist’s chair is that they have a cavity. For many kids, getting a filling can be a scary concept, and as an adult a cavity filling can be expensive compared to your regular dental visits. While brushing and flossing can prevent cavities, there is nothing as important as seeing your dentist twice a year. At the dentist they can find early signs of cavities, including signs of decay where it might be possible to intervene and reverse the damage before you even need a filling. In this article, we will discuss what a “reversible” cavity is, when it is possible, and how it can be accomplished.

A dental assistant working on a patient

Can You Reverse A Cavity?

A cavity is caused when bacteria in our mouth (often due to the foods and beverages we consume) erode our teeth leading to divets and eventually holes. At first they attack the enamel (the outermost layer of your tooth), after a while, they start to damage the dentin. If they are not treated with a filling, the infection can spread to surrounding teeth and to the root of your teeth. At this point only a root canal will be able to save the tooth, otherwise the tooth might need to be extracted. The earlier a cavity is caught the better. A cavity in the root can be solved with a root canal, a small cavity at the surface can be handled with a filling, and some cavities are even reversible. 

A “reversible” cavity, is a term not often used, but it is in reference to instances where dentists see the beginning signs of tooth decay, but the cavity hasn’t reached the dentin yet. In instances where only the enamel has been damaged, it might be possible to intervene and stop the infection from spreading. In fact, enamel can repair itself using minerals. 

How Can You Reverse A Cavity

A cavity is only reversible if it is caught in the earliest stages of development. Demineralization or the process of the enamel breaking down is the first step in cavity formation. The best way to catch a cavity early is to see the dentist routinely. If you see the dentist twice a year, you are only giving cavities 6 months to form, as opposed to years and years. Combined with good oral care and professional cleanings at the dentist, it is likely you can prevent cavities, and that some tooth decay can be reversed. 

Your dentist will recommend a variety of ways to prevent the cavity from getting worse. First and foremost, your dentist will provide cleaning services that can heal your teeth and keep them in good condition. They can also provide a fluoride treatment. Fluoride can help restore damaged enamel. They might also recommend a fluoride toothpaste to further restore your tooth. At your next dental visit they will check the area to make sure the cavity has not progressed and that the enamel has returned. 

Schedule A Family Dental Appointment in Maine

If you live in the Southern Maine area and are interested in setting up a family dental appointment, our team of dentists would be happy to get an appointment for your child. We believe that the key to good family dentistry is providing a safe, non-judgemental space for kids to get dental treatments and learn more about brushing and flossing.