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Q. How can I find out if my filled teeth have caries under the restoration?

Answered by
Dr. Naveen Thomas
and medically reviewed by iCliniq medical review team.
This is a premium question & answer published on Jan 12, 2015 and last reviewed on: Dec 19, 2018

Hello doctor,

I have three first molars that have been filled with amalgam three years ago. I need to know how can I find out if one of them has caries under the restoration because one more first molar was also restored by amalgam, and three years later, I was experiencing some pain. When the doctor checked, it turned out that it was full of caries, and I had an endodontic treatment. Is there any way to find out if my other amalgam restored molars have caries? Are there any other methods other than radiographs because I know that prolonged exposure to radiographs is not very healthy. And also, last month I was exposed to x-ray 11 times, besides experiencing that severe pain and leading to endodontic treatment. I have a panoramic radiograph which was taken a month ago. Can you tell me how to find out if there is caries underneath the restorations (like how caries looks in a radiograph)?

Dr. Naveen Thomas

Dentistry Endodontist Paediatric Dentistry Periodontist


Welcome to

Yes, there are possibilities of caries (tooth decay) underneath amalgam restorations. Please check the panoramic radiograph and see if there are any dark patches below the amalgam fillings in the teeth. It would be best if you could send a photograph of your recent panoramic radiograph (OPG), for confirmation. Your panoramic radiograph is more than enough to find out if there is secondary caries (caries underneath restorations) in your molar teeth.

Intra Oral Periapical radiograph (IOPA) is the x-ray of an individual tooth. IOPA might be needed for detailed investigation of an individual tooth during later stages of treatment. You could try digital x-rays which have very low-level radiation exposure compared to conventional x-rays.

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