Cavities affect a majority of people at some point in their lives. You likely have at least one dental filling from a treated cavity in your smile now. A dentist permanently eradicates a cavity when giving you a filling, but if you do not take care of your smile, you can form a new cavity on this same tooth.
Dentists refer to this additional cavity as recurrent tooth decay. Though treatable, ideally, you should avoid tooth decay and preserve the natural structure of your smile. Read on to learn more about recurrent tooth decay and how your dentist will address these new cavities in your smile.
Defining Recurrent Tooth Decay
Recurrent tooth decay refers to a new cavity that forms after you have received treatment for an initial cavity. This could mean a cavity on a different part of the same tooth or a cavity that forms underneath your dental work.
When your dentist gives you a dental filling to treat a cavity, the resin forms a seal as it hardens into place that shields this vulnerable part of your tooth from plaque and bacteria. But if the filling breaks, loosens, or wears down, this seal can break. This accident will expose this section of the tooth to further dental damage. Another cavity can advance without intervention from a dentist, leading to major structural harm to your smile.
Treating Recurring Cavities
Your dentist will treat recurrent tooth decay in a similar way to how they get rid of an initial cavity. They will first remove any dental work over the affected tooth so that they can access the decay. You will receive a local anesthetic to numb the area and make sure you stay comfortable during this process.
The dentist then drills away the decay as they would with any other cavity. They can give you another filling to restore and protect the tooth after this. But if too much of the tooth has sustained structural damage, the dentist might need to give you a dental crown instead. This ceramic cap will provide more extensive coverage and protection as it shields the entire surface of the tooth.
Preventing Tooth Decay After Cavity Treatments
You can reduce your risk of forming recurrent tooth decay by working to prevent cavities in the first place. Practicing good oral hygiene will remove plaque and other harmful residues in a timely fashion before they can erode your tooth enamel and leave it vulnerable to decay.
Your regimen should include brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing daily. You should also schedule routine teeth cleanings for optimal preventative dental care. Your dentist can check your smile for early signs of decay during these visits too.
You should also take care of your existing dental work so that you do not damage a filling and allow plaque to hurt the underlying tooth. Avoid abnormally high amounts of pressure on the teeth so that you do not hurt the filling. Do not bite down on hard items and ask your dentist for help to treat teeth grinding or clenching habits.