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X-rays Showing Decay and ‘Bad’ Fillings

Bad Dental Work?  Decay? Defective Fillings Can Cause Serious Problems!

Deep decay or cavity between the top teeth, small cavity starting between the lower teeth

Patients should expect their dentist to provide the highest quality dental care.  While patients aren’t expected to be able to read their own x-rays, I feel it may be helpful to show you some problems we sometimes see around defective dental work.  The very bright or white areas on these
x-rays are where silver dental fillings are present in teeth.  Because the fillings are a dense metal, they will show up on an x-ray as bright areas. What makes a dental filling defective? Roughness, ledges, improper shape, and/or anatomy that does not replicate a healthy tooth are all problems that can be caused AND prevented by your dentist. Dentists should evaluate all of your teeth with a thorough examination and x-rays to show problems between teeth.

Decay and defective restorations

Decay often begins around the edges of dental fillings or crowns where two materials come together – in this case, tooth enamel and metal. This can be evaluated with x-rays and an examination.

Bacteria seem to love to congregate around the edges of fillings or other restorations and this is where new decay will start.  If fillings are rough or defective the problems is worse! Bacteria also like places that are rough where food collects and where it is difficult to clean.  Because of this, all fillings should be smooth where they meet the tooth. This is also true for crowns.  Areas that are rough will be harder to keep clean and will hold more debris creating a food storage area for the bacteria that cause new decay, periodontal disease or bone loss, and gum disease.

Defective restorations/Recurrent decay

In the x-ray shown here, you can see bad dental work and other problems.  Note the fillings with overhangs or ledges of filling material that stick out beyond the tooth.  There are rough areas that will hold debris.  There are areas where new decay is starting below the existing filling. Decay will show up on an x-ray as a dark area below a filling or on the side of a tooth.  Broken pieces of filling can become wedged between two teeth making flossing difficult or impossible and below this you will see areas of bone loss.  This bone loss is the beginning of periodontal disease and it may be permanent.

What can be done?

Your dentist takes x-rays to evaluate areas like this and he or she will recommend treatment to remove and replace the defective restorations or fillings, treat the periodontal disease, and prescribe therapy to prevent further decay and bone loss.  It is now common to be able to keep your teeth for a lifetime!

Our office would be happy to answer your questions about issues like this.  We are located in Grand Junction, Colorado and believe that every person deserves the right to a comprehensive examination and treatment plan with options to restore health to their mouths. Our phone number is (970) 242-3635.  Please visit us on Facebook or call us if you have any questions or concerns.

Yours for better dental health,

Julie Gillis DDS, AAACD

Restoring Teeth, Restoring Smiles