Tooth Decay Stages (Tips on How to Save Them)
Tooth decay is one of the most common causes of tooth pain, which often results in oral health damage such as cavities, dental abscess, and tooth loss. When not treated correctly, it may lead to permanent teeth damage and affect your everyday activities. So, where does tooth decay come from? Are there any ways to prevent tooth decay? Are you already experiencing the abovementioned stages and wondering when can a tooth with decay be saved? Let’s find out.
What exactly is tooth decay?
Tooth decay comes from the build-up of bacteria that lives in dental plaque. It begins when your enamel starts to break down, thus creating a space for corrosion to build up. This space is popularly known as “pockets” and is present on the surface of your teeth. The bacteria present on this pocket can convert into several acids, which can potentially bring significant damage to your teeth.
Tooth decay occurs in five stages. To help you understand better, we will explain how each of these stages happens and discuss the possible treatment options as well as some tips that will help you prevent tooth decay.
Stage One: White spots (Initial demineralisation)
At the first stage of tooth decay, the enamel loses its minerals. These often start with the appearance of deposits in the form of white spots which is an initial sign for tooth decay. These white areas show up on the top layer of your tooth surface and is an indication of calcium loss and plaque build-up. It causes the enamel to deteriorate and undergo the process of demineralisation. During this stage, you can still reverse the tooth decay with proper treatment as your dentist will advise. With the right brushing techniques and fluoride treatment, you can prevent plaque build-up and fight away tooth decay.
Stage Two: Enamel Decay
In the second stage of tooth decay, you will notice changes at the surface of your teeth as the white spots progress and starts to darken into brown patches. This formation happens because the enamel further breaks down underneath the surface of your teeth. During this stage, natural treatments for remineralisation will not be possible. Your dentist can still restore the enamel and minerals through the filling of your cavities, which might require a more invasive procedure.
Stage Three: Decay of Dentin
When reaching this stage of tooth decay, the bacteria and acids continuously dissolve the tooth enamel, and lesions will start to get the dentin. The dentin is a part of the tooth that can be found between the enamel and the pulp. When the decay reaches this area, the pain level becomes unbearable and intensifies. The enamel collapses after it gets weakened by the significant loss of minerals and calcium, leading to the formation of a dental cavity. At this point, your dentist might suggest a dental filling to restore your teeth and prevent tooth decay.
Stage Four: Pulp Damage
During this stage, the pulp begins to be infected as bacteria fill in, a pus forms which leads to the destruction of blood vessels and nerves in the tooth. The pulp is the tooth’s core and contains the living tissues and cells necessary to maintain the structure. Since this part becomes affected, it can cause severe toothache and pain, which affects your lifestyle. For this stage, the most common treatment is to undergo root canal therapy. Visit this page to learn more.
Stage Five: Formation of Abscess
If your tooth decay reaches this stage, it means that bacteria have already caused more infection into the pulp, increasing inflammation in your tooth. This leads to an abscess, which comes as pockets that form at the bottom of your tooth. This abscess creates a painful sensation that can spread out into your jaw, affecting your gums and face as well.
When this happens, some may get fever and experience swollen lymph nodes on their neck area. If you are experiencing the stage five of tooth decay, it might be considered as a dental emergency. Abscess formation requires prompt treatment to avoid the infection from reaching through your jaw and other areas. The most common treatment for this stage involves oral surgery or the removal of the affected tooth.
Tooth Decay Prevention
Establishing a good oral care regimen is the most important preventive measure to avoid tooth decay. Following simple day to day routines can improve your oral hygiene and discourage the formation of plaque build-up. Regular flossing and brushing are enough to reduce the progression of bacteria.
Scheduled visits to your dentist are also crucial as it is essential to have a professional to check your oral health.
Treatments for Tooth Decay
There are several instances when tooth decay is still reversible. Treatment also depends on the location you are in. In the early period, simple cleaning procedures and tooth filling can yet be done to inhibit plaque formation and save your teeth. However, there are also instances when your tooth is already in the late stages of tooth decay, and the only treatment possible is extraction.
This only tells us that it is always better to manage tooth decay as soon as you notice the early signs before it worsens and gets more painful. However, some may not experience any symptoms, which brings us back to the importance of regular dentist check-ups. Your dentist will help you identify and assess your oral health.