Do cavities need to be filled immediately?

This blog post will address the topic, “do cavities need to be filled immediately” and cover topics like what a cavity is and how does it worsen over time if left untreated, what a filling is and how is it done, can a cavity reappear even after filling, care after filling so that cavities do not reappear and precautions after filling to avoid any discomfort.

Do Cavities Need To Be Filled Immediately?

Yes, cavities need to be filled immediately otherwise it may worsen further and reach dentin followed by pulp, causing excruciating pain, sensitivity and even inability to eat and open mouth properly.

However, cavities in its earliest stage, when it has yet not reached dentin, may be reversed naturally with proper oral hygiene and diet and may not require any filling.

Cavities may worsen quickly within a few months or may take even years depending upon an individual’s oral hygiene, care and immunity.

It is always better to get it filled as soon as you notice it or feel it with your tongue, to avoid tooth fracture, or weakening of tooth, or to even prevent your expenses on root canal treatment.

What Is A Cavity And How Does It Worsen Over Time If Left Untreated? 

Dental Cavity or tooth cavity, is a hole that develops on the surface of the tooth due to loss of mineral content from the enamel, resulting from the repeated acid attack by the plaque bacteria.

Consumption of sugary and starch rich foods expose the tooth to acids frequently, resulting in mineral loss from the enamel.

Infrequent tooth brushing habits cause poor oral hygiene, resulting in plaque accumulation.

Plaque is a sticky film containing bacteria that coats the protective enamel of your teeth. 

These bacteria produce acids by breaking down the food debris and the acids penetrate the enamel leading to formation of white spots on the teeth.

The cavity worsening takes place in five stages where stage 1 is the least damaging stage and stage 5 is the most damaging stage with tooth infection that may spread to bone and body organs like heart and lungs.


  • Appearance of the white spots on the surface of the tooth as the mineral loss begins from enamel due to bacterial acid attack.
  • This stage can be reversed with preventive actions and maintaining good oral hygiene.


  • If the white spots are ignored and no preventive actions are initiated, the repeated acid attacks wear down the mineral and enamel is decayed
  • Visible hole is seen and now the cavity becomes irreversible.


  • The decay moves down further and attacks the inner soft dentin.
  • This is called as advanced cavity stage
  • Slight pain and sensitivity starts


  • In this stage, the decay finally reaches the pulp and irritates the nerves
  • Pain, sometimes excruciating, sensitivity and discomfort is seen in this stage.
  • Root Canal is the only treatment option other than extraction.


  • After pulp involvement, if treatment is not initiated, the infection spreads to the surrounding structures of the tooth and inflammation is caused
  • Extreme pain and even tooth loss may result

What Is A Filling And How Is It Done?

Dental filling, as the name suggests, is the use of various materials to fill the hole in the teeth called cavities. 

Materials used to fill the cavities are referred to as filling materials and the process is known as dental filling.

For a filling, your dentist may proceed with the following steps:

  1. A local anesthetic is used in the first step to numb the soft tissues around the tooth that needs filling. This is essential to give painless dental care.
  1. Removal of the decayed area of the tooth that needs filling using rotary instruments, or a laser.
  1. Probing to confirm removal of all decayed parts of the tooth that needs filling.
  1. After complete removal of the decayed part, cavity preparation is done by cleaning the bacteria and other debris produced during decay removal.
  1. Liners are applied for nerve protection if the decay has advanced to the root and might irritate the nerve endings.
  1. If you have opted for a tooth colored composite material for filling, then your dentist will apply the composite in layers and use a special blue light called “curing” to harden the composite material applied.
  1. Finally, trimming and polishing is done and the filling process is complete.

Can A Cavity Reappear Even After Filling?

Yes! A cavity may reappear even after filling due to bacterial contamination of the tooth cavity resulting from multiple causes such as microleakage, faulty crown placement, filling material falling out due to poor after-care, inadequate debridement and sealing of the cavity and poor oral hygiene after filling.

In order to prevent cavities from reappearing even after filling, daily brushing your teeth twice is essential along with daily flossing and occasional mouthwash.

However, if the reappearance of the cavity is due to reasons other than poor oral hygiene, then your dentist will examine and fix the issue as suitable.

If you feel any hole or pain in the tooth that has filling, immediately consult your dentist.

Care After Filling So That Cavities Do Not Reappear

It is always better to prevent getting cavities in the first place. However, if you get cavities, filling is done and you wonder that cavity will not reappear, then you are mistaken. 

Failure of cavity filling or root canal may occur due to unavoidable conditions or bad oral hygiene resulting in reappearance of tooth decay or cavity.

Proper oral care is essential to prevent bacterial attack on the tooth and cavity from reappearing. You may follow the below given steps to prevent cavity from reappearing:

  • Use a soft-bristled toothbrush. 
  • Choose a fluoride toothpaste with optimum amount of calcium and low abrasive agent
  • Use the proper tooth brushing technique for better results and stronger and white teeth.
  • Avoid brushing immediately after eating, especially when you have any acidic food or drink. Doing this erodes enamel and exposes the darker dentin.
  • Do not open bottles with your teeth, or hold any sharp objects in your mouth, or bite your fingernails, as all of these may lead to dental abrasion causing your enamel to wear away and exposing the darker dentin.
  • Drink fluoridated water:  Fluoride strengthens  the enamel and prevents dental caries.
  • Say no to Tobacco: Tobacco in any form increases the risk of tooth decay and causes tooth discoloration.
  • Use a fluoridated mouth rinse: Fluoride reduces the amount of acid produced by the bacteria on your teeth and prevents tooth decay. This also protects your teeth from abrasion and thereby maintains its natural color.
  • Take fluoride as recommended by your dentist as excessive consumption may cause yellowing of your teeth
  • Upgrade to an electric toothbrush: Electric toothbrush helps remove excess plaque buildup from your teeth compared to a manual toothbrush and thus achieve whiter shade.
  • Have a healthy diet with a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables and avoid stain causing food and drinks.

Precautions After Filling To Avoid Any Discomfort

After a filling, you might feel some discomfort and need to take some precautionary steps:

  1. Chew on the opposite side of the new filling with minimum pressure
  1. Eating soft Foods as hard food puts a lot of pressure on the teeth surface causing discomfort to increase.
  1. Do not eat foods that are sticky in nature as it may stick to your new filling and dislodge it. This mostly happens with amalgam fillings.
  1. Eat slowly as this will put less pressure on the tooth and relieve the discomfort.
  1. Do not eat or drink anything that might trigger tooth sensitivity. Too hot, too cold or sugar rich foods and drinks must be kept away from your palate.

After a filling, you must not eat hard and sticky foods, sugary foods and any food and drink that is too cold or too hot.

You should also wait for at least two hours before eating and drinking anything as till then your mouth might be numb due to local anaesthesia used during the filling process.

All the above tips might relieve the discomfort caused after filling.

However, your dentist is the best person to give you suggestions based on the type of your filling material and your overall oral hygiene.


This blog post addressed the topic, “do cavities need to be filled immediately”. We understood what a cavity is and how it worsens over time if left untreated, what a filling is and how it is done and can a cavity reappear even after filling.

The article outlined post-filling care to prevent cavities from reappearing and some precautions to be taken after filling to avoid any discomfort.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS (FAQs): Do Cavities Need To Be Filled Immediately

How Long Can A Cavity Wait To Get Filled?

A cavity may take a few months or even years to worsen and need filling, depending on your oral hygiene, eating habits and body defense mechanism.

However, it is always recommended to visit your dentist as soon as you notice a cavity or feel it with your tongue. 

Your dentist will guide you best in this regard and will inform you if you require filling immediately or you can wait and reverse it naturally.

What Happens If You Don’t Get A Cavity Filled Right Away?

If you don’t get a cavity filled right away, it may spread and worsen, resulting in pulp infection causing excruciating pain and sensitivity and the infection may also spread to the adjoining bone causing jaw pain and difficulty in mouth opening.

Not getting a cavity filled right away may also increase your treatment expenses as you may require a root canal treatment later.

Is A Black Dot On Your Tooth A Cavity?

Yes, a black dot or darkening of the surface of the tooth, mostly molar tooth, is an indication of cavity and needs attention.

It is a sign that must not be ignored and you should consult your dentist for a more detailed examination, maybe a percussion test and x-ray.

Can Cavities Go Away Naturally?

Yes! Cavities may go away naturally when it is still in its first stage of formation and has yet not reached dentin. 

First stage of cavity is the formation of white spots on the tooth surface and preventive actions like toothbrushing with a fluoride toothpaste, daily flossing and mouthwash can reverse the cavity formation in this stage.

However, if ignored, the cavity development may enter into its later stages where reversal is impossible to achieve and root canal is the only favourable treatment option.

How do you heal a cavity in 2 days?

The only way to heal a cavity in 2 days is to get a filling done at your dentist’s office. It takes almost an hour or less to fill a single cavity. 

In case of multiple cavities, the dentist might give you multiple appointments.

Other FAQs about Teeth cavities that you may be interested in.

Do cavity fillings last forever?

Do cavity fillings need to be replaced?

Do fillings for cavities hurt?


The Tooth Decay Process: How to Reverse It and Avoid a Cavity. (2018)

What Is a Filling? Colgate

How Long Do Fillings Take for Tooth Cavities? – Healthline

Healthline. (2019)

Dental Health and Tooth Fillings. (2019)

Chewing Tips After A Filling. Colgate

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