Can Cavities Form Under a Dental Filling?

Most of us will develop a cavity at some point in our lives. You likely already have a dental filling in your smile. This common cavity treatment will get rid of this early form of tooth decay for good and stop new decay from developing.

But you may not know that you can form another cavity on the same tooth, even with a dental filling. You will need to continue caring for your smile if you want to avoid these additional cavities, which dentists refer to as recurrent tooth decay. Read on to learn more about recurrent tooth decay, its treatment, and its prevention.

Can Cavities Form Under a Dental Filling

Defining Recurrent Tooth Decay

A cavity is an early stage of tooth decay. Your mouth contains natural bacteria which can spread across your teeth to create plaque throughout the day. Plaque will erode the enamel, weakening it and leaving it vulnerable to decay.

If oral bacteria reach these weak and thin spots of the tooth, they can penetrate the enamel and eat at the dental structure to create a hole, a cavity. Dentists will treat a cavity with a dental filling, removing the decay and restoring the tooth’s structure.

But you could form a new cavity on this tooth if you neglect oral health care. Or you may develop a cavity under the dental filling if the fixture wears down or dislodges from the tooth.

This damage to the dental work breaks the seal that the composite resin filling forms on the vulnerable area of the tooth. Then plaque can access this area and create another cavity there. These new cavities are known as recurrent tooth decay.

Treatment Options for Recurrent Tooth Decay

Your dentist will treat recurrent decay similarly to how they would an initial cavity. Dentists will first need to remove the damaged dental filling to access the decay. They will give you a local anesthetic to numb the affected area so that you do not feel discomfort.

Then the dentist drills away the decayed part of the tooth and gives you a new composite resin dental filling. However, if you suffered extensive damage to the enamel, you may need a dental crown to cover the tooth instead. This ceramic cap will protect a larger surface area of your tooth for a longer period of time.

Recurrent Decay Prevention Tips

You can prevent recurrent tooth decay by taking action to protect your smile as well as your prior dental work. Proper oral hygiene will stop plaque and other harmful residues from harming your smile. But this at-home care will also help to stop dental changes from impacting the fit and function of dental crowns and fillings.

Then your teeth can stay protected following cavity treatment. To further preserve your dental work, avoid biting on hard items, like fingernails or the end of a pen, which could break your teeth and dental fixtures. If you do sustain damage to your dental work, contact your dentist as soon as you can for urgent repairs.