A majority of people around the world have had at least one cavity in their lifetime. That means many individuals have dental fillings on their smiles as a result of treating these cavities.
Once a dentist drills the cavity away, it is gone for good. But most people may not know that if you do not take care of your fillings, a new cavity can form under your prior dental work. Dentists refer to this dental problem as recurrent tooth decay. Read on to learn more about the origin, treatment, and prevention of recurrent decay.
How Does Recurrent Tooth Decay Form?
A cavity develops when plaque or other harmful residues wear down the enamel of your tooth and leave a hole in the surface. Your dentist will treat this early stage of tooth decay and conclude the procedure with a dental filling.
If the filling falls out of place or otherwise unseals from your tooth, the vulnerable section of your tooth becomes exposed. This means that plaque can infiltrate the area and form another cavity, which dentists call recurrent tooth decay.
You might not always realize you have developed this dental problem. A dentist can recognize damage to a filling during a routine dental exam and then spot recurrent decay using x-ray imaging.
How Will My Dentist Treat Recurrent Decay?
Dentists will eradicate recurrent tooth decay similarly to how they would treat an initial cavity. First, the dentist will need to remove the prior dental work to access the affected part of the tooth. You will receive a local anesthetic so that you can remain comfortable throughout this process.
Then your dentist will drill away the decay from the tooth. They will use composite resin to make another dental filling to treat the resulting hole in the enamel. They cure the resin so that it hardens and deliver a final polish to complete the treatment.
Can I Prevent Cavities from Forming Under Dental Work?
When you take care of your oral health, you can prevent the formation of cavities under your dental fillings. A primary way to prevent cavities overall is to practice good oral hygiene.
This involves brushing your teeth twice daily, flossing every day, and visiting your dentist for routine teeth cleanings. You may also benefit from rinsing with a mouthwash that contains fluoride. This substance can strengthen your enamel and make it more resistant to decay.
You can protect your dental fillings from dislodging or breaking by avoiding abnormally high amounts of pressure on your smile. This means that you should not bite down on hard-textured items, including ice or the end of a pen.
If you grind or clench your teeth, you should let your dentist know so that you can try to reduce or stop this habit. This behavior generates pressure on your teeth that could hurt a dental filling over time. Your dentist may suggest that you wear a custom-made nightguard as you sleep to protect against unconscious teeth grinding and clenching.