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  • Writer's pictureDr. T.J. Emmer

Do All Cavities Need to be Filled? The Answer? It Depends.

Do all small cavities need to be filled?

The answer is “it depends.” Not all small cavities need to be filled.

Sometimes less treatment is a better option and sometimes you need to do more to prevent a situation from getting worse and further compromising the health of the tooth or the patient.

The treatment of a small cavity is a great example of this.

A patient has a very small cavity in the middle of their mouth that’s been there for years. It hasn’t grown at all. It doesn’t create an aesthetic issue and presents no discomfort to the patient; we may not recommend acting or adding a filling to that tooth.

Why not?

Because essentially a filling would be putting a hole in an otherwise healthy tooth and increasing the risk of further exposure. The risk of the filling compromising the integrity and strength of the tooth is greater than the risk of the cavity growing and causing further damage.

On the flip side, a patient comes in with a similar sized cavity in the exact same tooth, you note it in their chart, and the next time you see them the cavity has grown. That cavity needs to be stopped before it gets even worse, so you recommend a filling.

Two teeth with the very same problem, but different histories. The treatment plan is different for each.

Sometimes the best plan is inaction and sometimes the best plan is immediate action!

The important thing to understand is that it always depends – on the situation, the tooth and the patient.

Whether or not a small cavity needs to be filled is just one example of how every treatment plan requires careful consideration of both the benefits and risks it poses, as well as the history of the tooth and the whole mouth health of the patient.

Do you have a cavity or other situation you aren’t sure how to treat? Are you in the Morristown NJ area? If yes, contact us to schedule a consultation.


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