What Is Recurrent Tooth Decay?

Many of us will develop at least one cavity at some point in our lifetimes. Dentists can treat this early form of tooth decay by removing the damaged part of the tooth and then restoring the tooth’s structure with a dental filling. After this treatment, the cavity will be gone for good.

But did you know that you can form a new cavity on this same tooth? Dentists refer to this new dental issue as recurrent tooth decay. It can lead to major structural problems in your smile.

When you know more about this dental concern, you can better preserve your oral health by preventing it. Learn more about the formation, treatment, and prevention of recurrent tooth decay when you read on.

What Is Recurrent Tooth Decay

How Does a Cavity Form Under Prior Dental Work?

An initial cavity forms when the natural bacteria in your mouth find and penetrate a weak spot in the enamel, the outer layer of the tooth. Then the bacteria begin to eat away at your dental structure until a hole wears into the tooth’s surface, a cavity.

The dentist will remove all of the decay when treating a cavity. The filling creates a seal over this part of the tooth to protect it from further harm. New decay could form in another area on the tooth though.

Recurrent decay might also develop under a filling if you do not take care of your smile. If the filling dislodges or wears down, then it may not fit properly on the tooth anymore. Bacteria can access the tooth’s interior if the filling’s seal breaks. Then you can face a risk of developing a cavity under a dental filling.

How Will a Dentist Treat Recurrent Tooth Decay?

A dentist will treat recurrent tooth decay similarly to the way they would an initial cavity. They will need to get rid of the decay by drilling it. If they cannot access this decay because of prior dental work, then they will need to remove the filling or other fixture first.

Once they drill away the decay, the dentist will restore the tooth’s structure once more. They may give you another dental filling. But if the tooth sustained more extensive damage, you might need a dental crown to provide adequate coverage for the tooth.

How Can I Prevent Recurrent Tooth Decay?

You can prevent recurrent tooth decay by reducing your risk of forming cavities in the first place. Keep your teeth in good condition by practicing good oral hygiene. This means brushing your teeth twice per day, flossing every day, and attending regular dental check-ups. These actions will keep your teeth strong enough to fight decay.

You can also avoid recurrent decay when you properly maintain your existing dental work. Avoid biting down on abnormally hard items, like fingernails or the end of a pen, so that you do not damage a filling, crown, or other fixture. Good oral health care will ensure that your dental work continues to function as well as possible, protecting you from decay.