The Stages Of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time for the enamel and dentin to be worn down by bacteria, and with proper dental hygiene, tooth decay can be prevented altogether. Steps can be taken to cosmetically repair decayed teeth through the use of dental veneers and crowns, but an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.
If you’re concerned about tooth decay and want to take preventative measures to maintain your healthy smile, Dr. Taylor has put together a guide to help you understand the five distinct stages of tooth decay.
Stage 1: Demineralization
If you’re experiencing tooth decay, the first stage to watch out for white or brown spots on the surface of the tooth. This discoloration is a result of demineralization in the tooth because of plaque buildup and weakened enamel. Luckily, if tooth decay is caught during stage one it can be reversed before it becomes more problematic tooth decay.
To improve the demineralization of the tooth, ensure you are regularly flossing and brushing your teeth with remineralization toothpaste. With proper attention from both you and your dentist, you can reduce the white or brown spots and reverse tooth decay.
Stage 2: Enamel Decay
If white and brown spots go untreated, the tooth’s enamel will continue to be eroded by bacteria infecting the mouth. Because your tooth’s enamel is weakening, those in stage two will often experience increased tooth sensitivity and need to rely on sensitivity toothpaste to relieve some of the pain.
At this stage, you must engage a dentist to provide the necessary treatment to prevent tooth decay from progressing. Depending on your specific scenario, a dentist may recommend a variety of dental procedures, including dental fillings or crowns.
Stage 3: Dentin Decay
Beneath the tooth’s layer of enamel is a substance called dentin. If the tooth decay isn’t halted, the bacteria will continue to eat through your enamel which will expose the dentin layer underneath. This layer decays at a much more rapid rate than enamel and will cause major sensitivity and pain.
At this stage, you need to schedule an appointment with a professional to stop the risk of further tooth decay. The decay will happen at an extremely rapid rate and if steps aren’t taken to repair some of the damage, you’re going to be left with pain, sensitivity, and the risk of infection.
Stage 4: Infection
Within your tooth is another soft layer at the center, known as dental pulp. If the bacteria eats through both your enamel and dentin, it will come into contact with the dental pulp — leading to severe pain and difficulty chewing. The dental pulp can become infected, and the only way to fix it will be to undergo a root canal to remove the infection. Once the infection has been removed from the tooth, they will install a crown in place of the tooth to prevent any more decay from occurring.
Stage 5: Abscess Formation
Without treatment to halt the tooth decay, the infection will move on from the tooth and into the jawbone, gums, tongue, and other teeth, often resulting in an abscess. This abscess, or pocket of pus, will remain in your mouth until a dentist performs a root canal or extracts the tooth. If tooth decay continues to be left untreated, the tooth will die.
Prevent Tooth Decay Before It Begins
Flossing, brushing, and performing fluoride treatment are the first steps to fighting tooth decay. Along with regularly cleaning your teeth, you can also minimize the amount of sugar and acidic foods in your diet, which is known to break down tooth enamel. Last but certainly not least, you need to schedule regular trips to the dentist at least twice a year for a professional cleaning and checkup.
For all dental concerns, Dr. Taylor offers preventative care, as well as porcelain veneers and crowns. To prevent or treat tooth decay, schedule an appointment with the leading cosmetic dentist in Billings, MT.