Tooth decay is a type of deterioration that can happen to the dental structure. It develops when natural oral bacteria penetrate a weak spot in the tooth’s enamel, the outer layer, and begin to eat away at the tooth. If decay erodes a hole into the tooth’s surface, it is known as a cavity.
Dentists can treat a cavity with a dental filling. But can another cavity form on the same tooth? The answer is yes, and it is more common than you might expect.
Dentists refer to this new cavity as recurrent tooth decay. You can better avoid the issue when you know more about it. Read on to learn more about recurrent tooth decay, including how it forms, how to treat it, and how to prevent it.
Can a Cavity Return Once Treated?
When a dentist treats a cavity, they remove the entire damaged part of the tooth’s enamel. Then they restore the surface of a tooth with a composite resin-based dental filling to protect the vulnerable part of the tooth. Once gone, a cavity will not return. However, you might grow a new cavity on the same tooth or develop a cavity under the dental filling.
Bacteria might reach under a filling to cause decay if the filling grows old and worn or sustains damage in some way. Then the seal created by the filling breaks to put the tooth at risk of decay. This recurrent tooth decay will need additional intervention from your dentist to treat before the decay advances and causes extensive dental damage.
How Will a Dentist Treat Recurrent Tooth Decay?
Dentists treat recurrent tooth decay in a similar way that they do an initial cavity. They must drill away the decayed portion of the tooth to stop the spread of dental damage. If the cavity forms under a filling, they must first remove the dental fixture to access the decay.
The dentist can give you a new dental filling to fill the resulting holes in the tooth’s surface after cavity treatment. But if decay causes too much damage for a filling to cover, you might require a dental crown to restore the tooth’s health.
The ceramic cap will shield the entire surface of the tooth. It seals into place with dental cement for both dental restoration and protection from further harm.
How Do I Prevent Recurrent Tooth Decay?
You can reduce your risk of recurrent tooth decay by protecting your dental filling. With proper care, a filling can stay in place in your smile for about ten years. Try to avoid damaging a filling by ceasing habits that apply excess pressure on your dental work. Examples of such behaviors include biting your nails or grinding your teeth.
You can prevent cavities in general, along with recurrent decay, by practicing good oral hygiene. Brushing your teeth twice a day, flossing daily, and attending routine dental cleanings will remove harmful excess bacteria and keep your teeth strong enough to resist dental damage. Learn more about preventative dentistry by giving your dentist a call.