Your teeth can last for a lifetime with the right care over the years. Unfortunately, the biggest threat to their health is tooth decay. A cavity does not develop all at once. In fact, there are 5 distinct stages of decay. While you have probably heard tooth decay is not reversible, depending on the stage, you can restore your tooth’s health with the help of your dentist to prevent the issue from worsening. Here are the 5 stages of tooth decay to help you keep your smile healthy.
Stages of Tooth Decay
- Stage One: White Spots
Your tooth begins to show signs of enamel erosion as white spots appear on your teeth. These spots are areas where your tooth is demineralizing. Thankfully, you can stop a cavity in its tracks with a fluoride varnish. This strengthens the weakened enamel to prevent the decay of progressing deeper into the tooth.
- Stage Two: Enamel Decay
Believe it or not, cavities do not start from the outside of your tooth. Instead, your tooth erodes from the underside of your enamel outward. During the second stage, the cavity will break through to the surface of your enamel. Now, there is no stopping the cavity unless it is treated with a filling.
- Stage Three: Dentin Decay
If the cavity remains untreated, it will reach your dentin, which is under your enamel. It contains tiny tubes that connect to the inner layer of your tooth called the pulp. Now, you may start experiencing pain or sensitivity. At this point, a filling is still an effective treatment option to stop it from worsening.
- Stage Four: The Pulp
If the cavity reaches your pulp, it is going to be very painful. Your pulp is the nerve center for your tooth. This can lead to horrible pain and infection. Now, you are at risk of losing your tooth if it is not treated quickly with a root canal.
- Stage Five: Abscess Formation
Once an infection reaches the tip of the root, it can spread to the surrounding tissues. This can cause significant pain and swelling. In some cases, your tooth can be saved with a root canal. If the infection is too severe, you may need an extraction.
Save Your Smile from Cavities
Although cavities are common, you can protect your smile by maintaining your oral hygiene at home and visiting your dentist twice a year for a cleaning and checkup. Your dentist can detect areas of weakened enamel while they are still small to stop cavities from forming. Do not wait until it is too late to save your tooth.
About Bethel Dental
At Bethel Dental, we believe a healthy smile starts here. We focus on prevention to keep your teeth and gums healthy to lower the long-term costs for care. We offer preventive treatments to protect against decay to ensure your smile lasts. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.