You've gone through the entire process of diagnosing a cavity and having it filled, but now that tooth is starting to hurt again. What gives? Is it possible that you still have a cavity?
Actually, this problem is referred to as recurrent cavities, and it involves decay that occurs underneath an existing restoration, such as a filling. Find out how these cavities occur and what treatment options are available for you.
Recurrent Cavity Causes
A recurrent cavity is typically caused by poor oral hygiene or by microleakage, which is the development of a tiny pathway for leakage to sneak past the restoration.
When microleakage is involved, bacteria and acids are allowed to access the areas of the tooth that won't be accessible to your toothbrush. Microleakage is one of the main reasons that questionable dental restorations like old fillings are often replaced.
Treating Recurrent Cavities
After your dentist has determined that you have a recurrent cavity, treatment options will be discussed.
If it is found that the decay extends below the gum line, you may need to have a crown lengthening procedure completed before the tooth can be restored with a filling, onlay, inlay, or crown. If severe decay is detected, you may need to have the tooth removed entirely.
Another unique situation involving recurrent cavities occurs when an abutment - or anchor - tooth is affected. These teeth are located next to a fixed bridge, and if decay is found, the bridge may need to be replaced.
The benefit to this situation is that if the bridge is removed, you will be able to re-evaluate your restoration options to determine if a more permanent solution like a dental implant might be a better choice.
Do you suspect that you may be suffering from a recurrent cavity? Contact our office for an evaluation and to discuss your treatment options.