General Dentist: Recurrent Decay Under Fillings

Your general dentist can use a dental filling to fill cavities. Fillings are often used to replace tooth structure that is lost to decay. They are also used to repair worn or broken teeth. Dental fillings may need to be replaced for various reasons including recurrent decay under them.

Recurrent decay

Recurrent decay is tooth decay that forms under existing fillings and crowns because of leakage around the dental restorations. Constant pressure from chewing or stress from grinding and clenching can cause fillings to crack, chip or wear away. These problems leave gaps and allow bacteria to get under the filling. Even though it is hard to tell if a filling is worn down, a general dentist can identify problems in them during a regular checkup.

Diagnosis of recurrent decay

Regular dental examinations can ensure problems are detected early. A dentist can determine if the fillings are still intact or if any are worn away or cracked. An instrument called an explorer will be used to detect worn spots around the edge of the fillings. If the seal between the filling and tooth enamel breaks down, decay-causing bacteria and food particles can get under the filling. These bacteria are hard to remove easily with a toothbrush. A person will then be at risk of developing additional decay in the tooth.

If decay is not treated, it may infect the dental pulp, and even result in the loss of a tooth. Decay can also cause an abscessed tooth. An abscess is basically a pocket of pus that usually forms around an infected tooth’s root. It does not get better on its own. It has to be treated by a general dentist or an endodontist.

Dental X-rays can be taken to evaluate the teeth for decay under dental fillings or even between teeth. If a filling has failed or decay is detected on the X-rays, the fillings will have to be replaced. If the recurrent decay is extensive, a dentist may need to use a crown to replace the filling. There may not be enough remaining tooth structure to support the replacement filling.

Early treatment

If a person feels pain or notices a crack in the filling, it is important to schedule an appointment with a dentist. This will allow for the early detection and treatment of the problem. Pain is often experienced if the decay is deep or close to the tooth’s pulp. The pain can indicate the tissue is not healthy. Seeking immediate help will ensure the problem does not get worse. It will also minimize the need for extensive costly procedures.

Talk to your general dentist

When a dental filling fails, decay-causing bacteria can get under the filling. The decay can then infect the dental pulp and cause other problems. It is always beneficial if problems with existing fillings are detected and treated in the early stages. If you suspect any problems with your filling, call your general dentist for an appointment. Your dentist can determine if your dental filling is properly sealed to your tooth or if it needs to be replaced.

Request an appointment here: or call Scottsdale Family Smiles at (480) 607-6937 for an appointment in our Scottsdale office.

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