May 12, 2018
Your mouth has many defenses for protection against tooth decay. However, saliva, the foods you eat, and the fluoridated water you drink can only go so far. Regular brushing can reverse the first stage of tooth decay, but neglecting your teeth past this stage will lead to the next four other stages, according to your dentist.
Learn more about the five stages of tooth decay with your dentist today!
Stage One: Visible Signs
In the first stage of tooth decay, you may start to discover white spots forming on the surface of teeth. This occurs when enamel begins to experience the strain of sugars and acids attacking it. This demineralization can be difficult to notice at first, especially when it occurs on the molars.
The best step to take is to visit your dentist for an exam. There, he’ll confirm if decay is present and work to repair it, without the need of removing more enamel to make room for a filling. He’ll also provide tips on improving your at-home oral care.
Stage Two: Decay of Enamel
Decay starts at the underside of the crown and continues outward, causing the outer enamel to remain intact during the beginning of this stage. Once decay spreads beyond enamel, there’s no way to reverse it, meaning a filling will be needed to restore full functionality of the tooth and prevent bacteria from entering. Keep in mind you can prevent this and the next three stages with proper at-home oral care and regular dental visits.
Stage Three: Dentin Decay
The naturally yellow dentin sits just behind the enamel. Once decay reaches this section, you’ll likely start to feel either pain or sensitivity, a symptom that only appears when decay has significantly worsened. At this point, a filling is used to prevent bacteria from reaching the most sensitive area of the tooth: the pulp. Since tooth decay does not typically cause pain at first, dental visits are necessary to catch it early.
Stage Four: The Pulp
When a cavity extends to the pulp, you’ll start to feel significantly more pain. Bacteria that reaches the pulp is considered a dental emergency because it puts the entire tooth at risk. At this point, a filling is not enough to restore functionality. Instead, a root canal needs to be performed to restore the tooth and prevent extraction.
Stage Five: Infection from Abscess
In the final stage, an infection will have reached the tip of the tooth root. Eventually, the bacteria will infect the surrounding tissue and the bone structure, causing swelling and severe pain to appear. Abscesses are also considered a dental emergency as they can be fatal if left untreated. At this stage, either a root canal or extraction will be needed.
Don’t get caught in stage 2 through 5 when your dentist can help. Schedule an appointment with your dentist to catch tooth decay early!
About the Author
Dr. C.J. Landry has more than 30 years of dental practice experience. He’s completed thousands of hours continuing his education, including in the field of endodontics. To learn more about root canal therapy, fillings, or tooth decay prevention, contact him at (504) 348-0080 or visit his website.
No comments yet.
RSS feed for comments on this post.
Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.