You care about the health of your smile, which is why you practice proper oral hygiene and visit your dentist regularly. However, there is a hidden danger lurking in your mouth—cavity-causing bacteria. Tooth decay is the most common dental complication to occur with over 90% of adults having had at least one in a permanent tooth; however, it does not happen overnight. It occurs in stages and can take quite some time for a cavity to form. If found in the early stages, you can help to stop it from progressing before it is too late.
Spotting the Stages of Tooth Decay
Cavities occur as saliva combines with bacteria in the mouth, turning it into acid. As it sits on a tooth, it slowly begins to eat away at the enamel. Over time, a hole will form, resulting in a cavity. This process occurs in various stages, each of which produce different signs.
Stage One: White Spots
As sugars and acids begin to attack the teeth, it will cause white spots to develop just below the surface of the enamel due to demineralization, which can cause tooth sensitivity. As this point, it can easily be treated, which is why regular dental appointments are necessary. Your dentist can detect an early cavity to provide the appropriate intervention to prevent it from worsening.
Stage Two: Enamel Decay
During this stage, the tooth begins to erode from the underside of the enamel outward. After it reaches the surface, the results are permanent. To treat the problem, the area of decay must be removed, and a dental filling will be needed.
Stage Three: Dentin Decay
If the cavity is not treated in the previous stage, it will continue to progress to the point it starts to destroy the dentin, which is located underneath the enamel. At this point, pain will be likely to develop as the inner layer become exposed. To treat it, a filling is needed to prevent the bacteria from causing further destruction.
Stage Four: Pulp Involvement
The inner layer of the tooth is known as the pulp, which is where the nerves are located. If the decay extends past the dentin to involve the pulp, tooth pain is likely. At this point, a filling can no longer be used. Instead, a root canal will be needed to extract the pulp and to seal the tooth from additional damage.
Stage Five: Dental Abscess
The final stage of tooth decay involves an infection developing in the root of the tooth. This begins to infect the surrounding structures and tissues. Now, pain can be quite severe while swelling can also occur. In some cases, a root canal can be used to restore the tooth’s health; however, it is not uncommon for an extraction to be necessary.
Stop the Complications of Tooth Decay
To protect your smile from the damages of tooth decay, it is important to have cavities treated in the early stages. With regular dental appointments, you can help to detect them while they are still small to keep your teeth healthy.
About Bethel Dental
At Bethel Dental, we believe that a healthy smile starts here. We provide the preventive care needed to stop the formation of cavities, as well as early detection. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment for a cleaning and checkup.