When to Fill a Cavity?


The short answer is fill a cavity sooner than later. Once a cavity or hole in the tooth gets started, it will continue to grow and get deeper until it causes a tooth ache, it enters into the nerve of the tooth, or it is stopped by the dentist when he places a filling. My philosophy is to fill cavities when they are small. This way we create less trauma to the tooth and there is less chance that the decay will kill the nerve of the tooth requiring expensive treatment.

Unfortunately, many patients and dentists like to “watch” these beginning cavities. Cavities do not get smaller. They just get deeper. I have had several new patients come in for an exam where I recommend that they have some fillings done on beginning to medium sized cavities.  I show the patient the decay with a photo similar to what you see above. They say, “But my last dentist said I did not have any cavities.” Thankfully most of these patients have me remove the decay and place tooth colored fillings. With many of these cases, the decay is a lot deeper than we thought and close to going into the nerve of the tooth. Unfortunately, some of these patients decide to keep “watching” the cavity. They return in 2-3 years in pain with most of the tooth gone due to the progressing decay.

If we catch a cavity when it is small, the cost to fix the tooth may be about $150. If we wait until it is into the nerve, the cost to fix the tooth goes up to about $2000. I know how I would want my family members treated. Call us if you have any questions.