Cavities affect a majority of people at some point in their lives, so you are likely familiar with the treatment for this dental problem: dental fillings. Once you receive a filling to treat a cavity, this dental damage is gone from your smile for good.
But can a new cavity form after you get a filling? And how do dental fillings protect your smile? The truth is that cavities may develop underneath a filling if you do not take care of your smile. Dentists refer to this condition as recurrent tooth decay. Read on to learn more about recurrent decay, its treatment, and how you can prevent this dental issue.
What Is Recurrent Tooth Decay?
A cavity is an early stage of tooth decay. Plaque or other harmful residues can eat away at the enamel, or outer layer, of your tooth. This can create a hole in the tooth that leaves the interior vulnerable to major damage. You might feel sensitivity pain when this area receives stimulation.
When your dentist treats a cavity, you receive a dental filling, which involves using composite resin to fill the hole. Recurrent tooth decay refers to a new cavity that forms on the same tooth around the filling.
Or it can point to a cavity that developed under the filling. This can happen if the filling wears down or dislodges for any reason. This breaks the seal of the filling so that plaque can infiltrate and eat away at the enamel in this spot of the tooth once again.
How Do Dentists Treat Recurrent Decay?
Your dentist will treat recurrent tooth decay in a similar way that they would for an initial cavity. Dentists will first remove the damaged dental filling in order to access the decayed part of the tooth. You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the area before this occurs so that you feel no discomfort during the procedure.
Then the dentist will drill away the decay as they would with any cavity. They will give you another dental filling. But if too much of the enamel has been damaged, you may need a dental crown to cover the tooth instead. This will shield a larger surface area of the tooth.
Can I Prevent Cavities Forming Under Dental Fillings?
You can prevent recurrent decay by protecting your prior dental work, including fillings and crowns. You should do this by avoiding biting down on abnormally hard items. This action can generate pressure that may dislodge a dental fixture from the tooth.
For similar reasons, you should also talk to your dentist to stop a teeth grinding or clenching habit. You can wear down your fillings and break the protective seal with chronic bruxism.
If you do damage your dental work, contact your dentist for an urgent repair or replacement of your dental fixtures. Swift treatment will ensure the area stays protected before plaque can hurt the tooth again.
You can also prevent cavities in general with proper oral hygiene. This involves brushing your teeth twice per day and flossing on a daily basis.