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FAQ:  Carious Teeth - Cavities

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Question:
Two years ago I went to a dentist and got a cleaning and x-rays. I wasn't thrilled with that dentist so I decided to get a copy of my x-rays and try a new one. This new dentist looked at my x-rays and asked if I got the 2 cavities filled that were on the x-rays. I said no because the dentist said I didn't have any serious enough to be filled.

Anyway, this new dentist said I have 4 cavities that need to be filled and it will cost $800.00!!! And my insurance won't cover fillings for another 6 months (new insurance). Do you think I can risk waiting out the six months? Or will it develop into a root canal? Help.

Answer:
It is impossible for anyone to make a comment about the possibility of decay extension over time because this differs for everyone. I have not seen your x-rays but from your posting I would assume that if your first dentist didn't feel the cavities were severe enough to treat yet at that time, they were probably small.

The modern thinking regarding tooth cavities is to try to harden the outer enamel by using strong fluoride gel and flossing but only when the decay is very, very early (only in the outer layer of the enamel). Once a cavity has passed through the enamel and into the deeper tooth called dentin, it can spread. The speed of this spread varies and is a function of your diet and hygiene habits.

If you have "small" or incipient cavities present, and you use fluoride with floss and avoid sugars and acidic sodas, you could probably wait the 6 months. Again, this is a judgment call and I don't know the extent of your cavities. I hope I have given you some insight.

Editorial Staff

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