The Revenge Of The Sugar Bugs
What is Recurrent Caries and Why you should know about it.
The first time a cavity happens, bacteria have to work really hard for months or years to pierce through the enamel, but once in the dentin layer, decay can cause damage on the inside a lot faster and make it to the nerve in a matter of weeks.
Worse than having a cavity is getting decay on the same tooth again. To treat a tooth with a cavity we have to drill through the enamel into the softer dentin layer and then the hole is plugged with a silver alloy or a synthetic tooth colored material. Over time, there’s differences in the way dental materials and tooth structures behave under the continuous strain of the bite, this pressure causes cracks, chips and small gaps to develop between the tooth and the filling. This gap is colonized by bacteria that can then reproduce and continue the destruction many times without being detected. Because enamel is so hard to break and has virtually no organic material, bacteria take the path of least resistance causing progressive damage on the inside without significant external signs. This second occurrence of decay around or under dental work is called recurrent caries, and if it takes a long time to brew, it may not cause pain until the tooth is in a very advanced state of decomposition or the tissues around the tooth have gotten infected. The tooth may only develop symptoms once the enamel shell collapses exposing the nerve of the tooth.
Recurrent decay is hard to detect because for the most part there are no external indications of damage and some dental materials block the X-Rays preventing us from seeing what is happening under them, but detecting it at its earlier stages is critical to minimize the extent of the damage to tooth structures. This is particularly important because during the dental exams, we find significantly more damage under existing dental work than newly developed cavities.
Despite all this, X Rays are still the most reliable way to know what is happening under dental work. Once the presence of internal damage has been found, you have a very small window of opportunity to act. As with any other medical procedures sometimes the extent of the damage is more than we anticipate, and as much as we love to do what we do, we always prefer to stay away from having to do root canal treatments or having to pull teeth out.
Some things you can do to prevent recurrent caries:
- Avoid excessive pressure against teeth that have dental work. Ask your dentist if there’s any indications of teeth grinding and if you may be a good candidate for a custom night guard.
- Don’t skip dental check ups, your mouth is a continuously changing environment that requires frequent monitoring.
- Flossing is critical whenever there are restorations between teeth
- Fluoride supplements help prevent tooth breakdown around dental work
Interested in replacing aged, existing dental work? Take advantage of our Proactive Incentive. That is 10% off proactive and/or elective dental treatment.
- Replace old fillings
- Teeth whitening
- Protective nightguards
- Braces and Invisalign
Call (626)810-5000 to schedule a complimentary needs assessment