By Sowmya Kanumilli from Your Dental Health Resource

If you’ve ever had a cavity and gotten it filled, you may think you don’t need to worry about your filling anymore. While all dental fillings will eventually deteriorate over time, some can begin to decline sooner than others to the point that you may begin to develop tooth decay underneath your existing filling. How does decay happen underneath a dental filling, and how do dentists treat such a problem?

How Does Decay Happen Under Fillings?

When a filling is placed, it’s bonded to your tooth in such a way that a seal is made to keep out bacteria and food particles that can cause decay and infection. If the seal between the filling material and your tooth wasn’t properly made during the bonding process—or begins to break down over time and isn’t repaired—tooth decay can begin to develop underneath the actual filling material.

Signs of decay underneath a filling are similar to those of normal tooth decay, including:

  • Toothache
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Pain
  • Bad breath or a bad taste in your mouth
  • Black or brown staining on the tooth

You may not experience symptoms until the cavity has significantly progressed, which it’s why it’s important to get regular checkups with your dentist. He or she can evaluate your fillings to ensure there are no problems such as decay forming underneath a damaged dental restoration!

Treatment for Tooth Decay Under an Existing Filling

If you do have tooth decay under an existing filling, how will your dentist treat the problem?

First, your dentist will take x-rays, which can help determine whether or not there’s developing tooth decay underneath the filling [1]. While your dentist will conduct an oral exam as well, x-rays can help see between teeth and underneath the surface of your teeth to identify decay that can’t be seen with the naked eye.

In the event that there is decay under your filling, your treatment will all depend on how advanced the decay is. In some cases, the old filling can be removed and a new filling can be placed. In others, you may not be able to get a new filling and instead, you’ll need a dental crown or root canal therapy to correct the problem [2].

Your dentist can let you know what to expect during your appointment based on their findings!

Don’t Ignore Symptoms of Tooth Decay!

If you’re having symptoms of tooth decay, even if there’s a filling there, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist for assistance. There may be a problem with the filling that needs to be corrected, or you may have tooth decay underneath the restoration. Your dentist can identify the issue and recommend the proper treatment to get you back to normal!

Sources:
1. http://www.ada.org/~/media/ADA/Publications/Files/patient_52.ashx
2. https://www.medicinenet.com/problems_with_dental_fillings/article.htm#deterioratin

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Source: Cornell