A majority of people around the world have experienced a cavity at least once in their lifetime. That means you are likely familiar with treating this early stage of tooth decay with a filling. Once you have completed this dental procedure, the cavity is gone from your smile.
However, if you do not take care of your oral health, a new cavity may develop under the filling. Dentists refer to this condition as recurrent tooth decay. Read on to discover how cavities can form under a filling or other dental work, as well as how your dentist can treat this problem.
What Is Recurrent Tooth Decay?
Cavities develop when plaque erodes the enamel, or outer layer of your tooth. Tooth decay creates a hole, which requires treatment from your dentist to repair. The decay will worsen and cause further structural damage without this intervention.
The dentist will treat a cavity using a dental filling, which will shield and seal this vulnerable part of your tooth. It is designed so that plaque and other harmful substances cannot infiltrate and hurt your tooth again.
However, if the filling sustains damage or becomes loose, the seal breaks, and plaque can access the tooth. A new cavity may form under the dental work. Dentists call this type of cavity recurrent tooth decay.
How Will My Dentist Treat Recurrent Decay?
Your dentist can treat recurrent decay similarly to how they would approach an initial cavity. Dentists will first need to access the new cavity by removing the prior dental filling or crown. You will receive a local anesthetic so that you can remain comfortable during this procedure.
Then, the dentist will drill away the tooth decay. They will fill the resulting hole with composite resin, as with an initial cavity. In some instances, a dental filling will not be enough to restore the structure of the tooth. If this is the case, your dentist may cover the tooth with a dental crown for more thorough protection. Learn more about dental crowns.
Can I Prevent Cavities from Forming Under Dental Work?
Cavities often develop when plaque and other residues linger on your teeth and eat away at your enamel. You can prevent cavity formation as well as recurrent decay by practicing good oral hygiene habits. These include flossing daily, brushing teeth twice each day, and visiting your dentist for routine teeth cleanings.
You can avoid recurrent decay specifically by protecting your dental work. Cavities and crowns are durable but may become loose if exposed to abnormally high levels of pressure.
Therefore, you should not bite down on hard items like the end of a pen or ice. You should also talk to your dentist if you have a habit of grinding or clenching your teeth.
This behavior, called bruxism, generates pressure that could disturb your dental work, breaking its seal and exposing your vulnerable teeth to plaque. Your dentist can help you stop this habit and protect your smile from this unconscious action.