filling below gum line

I’ve Developed a Gumline Cavity. What Can I Do About It?

Cavities are bad enough, but a cavity on your gumline can be especially worrying. You may find yourself wondering if this is worse than a “normal” cavity and have questions about treatment. Fortunately, our dental team is knowledgeable about every type of cavity and how to treat them.

Gumline cavities become more common as you age and your gums become prone to recession. Like other cavities, they’re likely the result of plaque and tartar buildup. Gumline cavities are treated just like other kinds of cavities, although there are slight differences if they extend below the gumline. They are easily prevented with good oral hygiene and dental appointments. 

What are gumline cavities?

Cavities can be broken down into three different types:

  • Smooth surface cavities
  • Biting surface cavities
  • Root cavities

Smooth surface cavities occur on the sides of your teeth where the surface is smooth, often between your teeth. Biting surface cavities form on the top or bottom surfaces of your teeth where you chew. Root cavities are when a cavity extends beneath the gumline.

Gumline cavities are usually considered smooth surface cavities since they develop on the sides of your teeth. However, they tend to form near the gumline and may even develop below the gumline. The latter cases would be considered root cavities. These types of cavities can’t be treated with brushing alone and may require a different approach for treatment.

You become more likely to develop gumline cavities as you age. You’re more prone to gum recession as you get older, exposing your roots which are more vulnerable to cavities. The roots of your teeth are covered with cementum, which is much softer than the enamel and dentin that covers the rest of your teeth. This makes them especially prone to decay and cavities. 

What causes gumline cavities?

Gumline cavities are primarily the result of tooth decay and gum disease. In fact, these two causes can work together to expose the softer cementum at the root of your teeth to plaque and tartar. This two-fold process can wreak havoc on your oral health, so it’s important to practice good dental hygiene and visit us for regular dental appointments.  

Tooth Decay

Gumline cavities occur for the same reasons that any other type of cavity does — tooth decay. Plaque and tartar are the main culprits when it comes to tooth decay. Plaque is the filmy substance that grows on your teeth after eating and drinking. The naturally-occuring bacteria in your mouth feeds off the sugars and starches from the food you eat, creating plaque.

When left untreated, plaque can eventually turn into tartar. Tartar occurs when plaque accumulates and is allowed to harden on your teeth. It creates a barrier between your toothbrush and the surface of your teeth, basically acting as a shield for bacteria to continue sapping minerals from your tooth enamel. 

You’ll need a dental professional if you want tartar removed quickly and safely to restore your teeth. Otherwise, more tartar will build up easily and eventually result in a cavity. Click here to read our blog about cavities and learn more. 

Gum Disease

Receding gums is one of the tell-tale signs of advanced gum disease, also known as periodontitis. We mentioned earlier that you’re more likely to experience gum recession as you age. Gum recession is when your gum tissue pulls away from your teeth, making them appear longer than they had in the past. 

This exposes the softer outer layers around the roots of your teeth, which are especially susceptible to tooth decay. You’re much more likely to experience gum line cavities if these two factors are combined. That’s why it’s so important to practice good dental hygiene and visit the dentist on a regular basis. Click here to learn more about how to prevent gum disease. 

Treating Gumline Cavities

Treating cavities at the gumline is a similar process to treating other types of cavities. The most common treatment is to create a filling. In this process, our dental team starts by numbing the area around the cavity. We then remove the decayed area using a drill or laser and the hole is filled with composite resin or a dental amalgam.

Things can get a bit more complicated if it’s a root cavity that extends below the gumline. It can be much more difficult for our team to reach the decayed area with a drill or laser alone. Minor gum surgery may be necessary to reach and effectively treat your cavity. But all of this can be avoided with the proper preventative dental care.

How to Prevent Gumline Cavities

In the end, the best treatment for gumline cavities is to never let them occur in the first place. Fortunately, this is quite easy and can save you a lot of time, money, and stress in the long-run. The first step is to ensure that you’re regularly removing plaque from your teeth. 

This is achieved with simple oral hygiene. Make sure that you’re brushing for two minutes, twice per day. You should also be flossing at least once per day after eating. To round out your oral health regimen, keep up your regularly scheduled dental appointments for checkups and cleanings.

You’re more likely to experience gumline cavities as you get older and your gums recede. Gumline cavities are usually the result of plaque and tartar buildup. They’re treated just like other cavities, often with fillings. However, those extending below the gumline may require minor gum surgery to reach the cavity. Practicing good oral hygiene and going to your regular dental appointments is the best way to avoid getting a cavity below the gumline.

Do you have a gumline cavity that needs treatment? Contact us today to schedule your appointment!

Knoxville Family Dental has two locations in Knoxville to better serve you. You can call Knoxville West at (865) 691-1121 or you can schedule an appointment online. To make an appointment with Knoxville East, call (865) 544-1711 or make an appointment online.

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