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I just recently went to the dentist-- the last time I went was a year ago. She said I have 10 cavities, all between my teeth. She insists that a few of them had to exist a year ago during my last check-up (with another Dentist). I have never had this many cavities in my life, and it is the first visit with this particular dentist. Should I get a second opinion? Also: I asked about the differences in white and silver fillings. She said that they are equally good, except that silver fillings last twice as long. My previous dentist told me that the white fillings are actually better and last longer because they bond to the tooth. Can you clear up these conflicting explanations? I appreciate your response very much.

Without examining your teeth, I can only speculate that your dentist is correct that you MAY have had some of your cavities for more than 1 year. Many times, cavities remain in a very inert state in which the enamel may be stained, but not cavitated (with holes). These types of cavities may be too small to even appear on x-rays or be visible during a clinical exam. Only as they grow larger (ie- over the course of a year), might they actually grow visible. Often, dentists will monitor such small stains or cavities before deciding to fill them. With the large variety of filling materials available today, both of your dentists may be correct about the longevity and durability of white versus silver fillings. White (or composite) fillings do bond better to your teeth and because of this, we are often able to make your fillings smaller than silver fillings. I do not doubt that your dentist is correct that you have a substantial number of cavities, but you are always certainly free to seek another opinion. As in any profession, there will always be differences in opinion about how to treat a particular diagnoses. Just remember that cavities, though they might not grow larger, will never go away on their own. It sounds to me like the question in your case will be WHEN to fill your cavities and not WHETHER OR NOT to fill them. I wish you luck, Jen. Please feel free to e-mail us again.


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Last revised: January 03, 2005.