The stages of tooth decay

Oct 29

The stages of tooth decay

If you would ask a dentist what common findings do they have and encounter in a dental consultation, most of them would answer a simple yet complex condition – tooth decay. Let us now find out the different stages of tooth decay, its causes, and what dentists do as solutions to tooth loss.


Tooth decay 101

The food that we eat contains nutrients and chemicals that our body absorbs to help and affect our overall health. It also contains physical debris that may be stuck in between teeth and harm our dental cavity. If we practice poor oral habits, these food particles will stay on our mouths and invite bacteria to eat them, causing irritation or reaction to our teeth. This is what causes tooth decay.


The stages of tooth decay

First stage: Spots formation

Do you notice spots on your teeth that are viewed whiter than your natural teeth color? That may be the first sign of cavities or dental caries. Some also appear to be brownish or black, darker than your teeth. This is a sign that the enamel of the surface of your tooth is already weak and under attack by plaque and bacteria. Common areas that initially gets these spots are the fissures or ridges on your molars and the inner side of your other teeth. These are the sides that regular tooth brushing often miss out.

Second stage: Enamel damage

This is the stage where the surface of your tooth begins to break and a hole appears. The acids on the food and the bacteria that eat the food debris break down the strong outer surface of the tooth, creating a lesion much more pronounced than just a crack or a discoloration.


Third stage: Dentin damage

The damage of the enamel becomes deeper that it reaches the inner layer of the tooth called the dentin. This part is very close to the pulp, of the innermost part of the tooth that houses the nerves and blood vessels. Once the damage reaches the dentin, tooth sensitivity and more pronounced pain and discomfort may be present whenever a patient consumes hot or cold beverages or food.


Fourth stage: Pulp invasion

tooth decayThis is, as mentioned earlier, the innermost layer of the tooth. This is where the other layers get their nutrients and blood supply. This is also where the tooth gets connected to the whole blood circulation of the body. If the bacteria reaches the pulp, it will cause an infection and damage to the nerves and blood vessels. This will cause abscess caused by the white blood cells that will fight off the bacteria, creating pus formation. This is the most painful stage of tooth decay. Check out this link if you want to learn about the stages of tooth abscesses.


Ways to manage the stages of tooth decay

First stage. Because the damage is still superficial, the tooth scratches and injury may still be reversed. Your dentist may require you to have a fluoride application to strengthen the enamel. They can also recommend getting sealants to cover the fissures of your molars.

Second and third stage. If the enamel damage deepens and eventually reached the dentin, a dental filling may be required. This procedure removes all the damaged areas and infected parts of the dentin and enamel and seals it with composite resin or amalgam so that the infection would not reach the pulp.

Fourth stage. If the damage is severe that it reached the innermost layer of the tooth, the dentist may recommend root canal treatment. This is where the pulp of the tooth gets scraped off so that the infection will not spread. Fillings would seal the tooth root to replace the pulp and retain the crown.

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