A majority of people will get at least one cavity in their lifetime. This means many individuals have gotten cavities treated with a dental filling. Once your dentist drills the decay from a cavity, the issue is gone for good.
However, if you do not take care of the dental filling that protects the vulnerable part of your tooth after this treatment, you could get another cavity in the same spot. Dentists refer to this new cavity as recurrent tooth decay. Read on to learn about the formation, treatment, and steps you can take to prevent cavities from developing under your dental work.
How Can a Cavity Form Under a Dental Filling?
A cavity occurs when plaque or other harmful residues eat away at the enamel, or surface layer, of your tooth. This leaves a hole in the enamel that exposes the interior of your tooth.
Your dentist can get rid of decay and fill the hole with a composite resin filling to restore the structure of the tooth. The dental filling creates a seal that protects this part of the tooth from further harm.
If the filling falls out or becomes damaged, then the seal can break. Plaque can infiltrate this section of the tooth and form another cavity under the dental filling. This type of cavity is known as recurrent tooth decay.
You might not always notice symptoms of this dental problem. Make sure you visit your dentist for regular exams so that they can find and treat this cavity before it causes significant harm to your smile.
How Will My Dentist Treat Recurrent Tooth Decay?
A dentist will check your smile for recurrent tooth decay if they see that a dental filling has sustained damage. They can spot a new cavity using x-ray imaging, which a dentist can take during your routine dental check-up.
The dentist treats recurrent decay similarly to how they would with an initial cavity. They first need to access the vulnerable area of the tooth, so they will remove the worn or damaged filling. You will receive a local anesthetic for this procedure so that you can remain comfortable during your treatment.
The dentist then drills away the decay and uses a new dental filling to seal and protect the tooth. If the decay has advanced to affect a larger portion of the tooth, then the dentist may need to use a dental crown to cover, seal, and preserve the tooth.
Can I Prevent Recurrent Decay?
You can lower your risk of getting a cavity under your dental filling by protecting your prior dental work as well as possible. A filling can wear down over time, so you should avoid biting down on hard items that could harm your dental work.
If you have a habit of grinding your teeth, let your dentist know. Continued grating of your top teeth against your bottom teeth could also wear down a dental filling. They may suggest that you wear a nightguard to cushion and protect your smile.