At What Point Is A Basic Filling Not Enough?

The most common problem people of all ages experience with their teeth is decay, and dentists refer to this as cavities. A cavity can be a small spot of decay on a tooth, or it can refer to a large amount of decay on a tooth. If a cavity is relatively small, and if it meets other conditions, the dentist could likely fix it with a basic filling. There are times when cavities cannot be fixed with basic fillings, and here are a few reasons for this.

The decay has damaged too much tooth

One key indicator of whether a dentist can fix a cavity with a regular filling or not is the amount of decay the tooth currently has. A cavity will start off as a small spot on a tooth and will be sticky in nature. This is often the way a dentist first detects decay on a tooth. When the small sticky spot is not removed quickly, it spreads over and into a tooth. At some point in this progression, the cavity might damage a great deal of the tooth's structure. Once it destroys too much of it, a filling will no longer be a sufficient solution for the problem.

The tooth has previous fillings in it

A second thing that can affect a dentist's decision is the presence of previous fillings. If a tooth now has decay on it and has experience decay and fillings in the past, there might not be enough tooth structure available to hold yet another filling. A tooth can only hold so many fillings. If you have a tooth that already had fillings, and you now have decay on a different spot, you should not be surprised if the dentist tells you that you will need more than a typical filling to fix this problem.

The decay seeped into the tooth's roots

The other time where a filling might not be enough is when decay is not just on the tooth structure, but is also inside the roots of the tooth. This occurs from deep cavities or from decay seeping through gums near a tooth—and a tooth that has decay in its roots will need more than just a filling.

When a tooth experiences any of these issues, a dentist might need to perform other steps in order to fix it. These steps might include completing a root canal on the tooth and placing a dental crown over it. It depends, though, and you should visit a dentist to learn more about the cavities you have.