The Revenge Of The Sugar Bugs

Recurrent Caries

Recurrent Caries

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
  • Veneers


Call (626)810-5000 to schedule a complimentary needs assessment

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