What Happens When a Cavity Extends Below the Gum Line?

Posted on: 30 January 2020

When you brush your teeth morning and night, it's important that you brush along the margins of your teeth and gums, too. The best way to do this is by placing your toothbrush at a 45-degree angle before moving along the gum line until you have removed all plaque and food debris. Cavities right along the gum line are simple to fill. But if the cavity extends below the gum line, treatment is more difficult.

If you believe that you have a cavity below your gum line, you need to seek treatment as soon as possible. The area below your gum line is susceptible to tooth decay because it doesn't have a thick enamel layer to protect it. Therefore, tooth decay can quickly destroy a tooth if it enters that tooth from below the gum line.

Fortunately, if you act fast, you won't have to extract the tooth.

A Filling Will Suffice for Minor Cavities

If your dentist treats the cavity early on, they can remedy the problem with a dental filling. First, they will need to perform gum surgery, probably using a laser to remove some of the gum tissue covering the cavity. After that, they will drill away the tooth decay and then fill the cavity just as they would with a typical cavity.

Crown Lengthening Is Useful for Deep Cavities

When a cavity extends deep below the gum line, a procedure that dentists call crown lengthening is necessary. The crown refers to the part of a tooth above the gum line. The area below the gum line is mostly composed of the root. However, by removing both gum tissue and bone from around the base of a tooth, a dentist can expose more of an affected tooth.

Exposing more of the tooth allows the dentist to both fill the damaged area and reposition the gum and bone tissue so that the newly repaired area sits above the gum line.

A Dental Crown Is a Must for Severe Cavities

If you wait too long, the tooth decay will spread throughout the tooth, destroying much of its structure. In this case, the alternative to removing the badly damaged tooth is a dental crown. To place the crown, your dentist will remove the decay along with a portion of the tooth to make room for the crown, which is sometimes known as a cap.

The dental crown will provide the tooth with stability that it would otherwise lack if it were to have just a filling.

If you suspect you have a gum line cavity, see your dentist immediately. Gum line cavities can progress quickly, and they could cost you your tooth if you wait too long to take action.