Tooth Decay Stages — Do You Know What They Are?

The food you eat affects your oral health. Some of it is good, some bad, like sugar, which leads to tooth damage when it reacts with the plaque bacteria in your mouth. Neglecting your oral hygiene can result in tooth decay, which keeps increasing if you don’t clean your teeth daily. But tooth decay does not happen overnight; there are certain stages that worsen your tooth’s state.

What Are the Stages of Tooth Decay?

We can divide tooth decay into five stages, which are as follows:

1. Demineralization
Enamel is the hardest tissue present in your body. However, the acids formed by plaque bacteria start to demineralize it. Consequently, your tooth enamel starts to weaken. You will notice white spots on your teeth in this initial stage of tooth decay, signifying mineral loss.

2. Enamel Decay

Gradually, tooth decay progresses and starts affecting tooth enamel. Now, the white spots on your teeth will take a brown appearance. At this stage, holes in your teeth, called cavities, start forming. Your dentist can treat the cavity with a dental filling. Thus, your tooth enamel starts breaking down as the tooth decay stages progress.

3. Dentin Decay
Now, tooth decay will bring pain. You will start experiencing tooth sensitivity to hot and cold foods as the bacteria spreads to the dentin layer. Dentin lies underneath the enamel and is comparatively softer. Moreover, dentin has tubes connecting to the tooth’s nerve, making it easier for the decay to spread.

4. Pulp Damage

Under dentin is your tooth’s pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves. These nerves provide sensation to your tooth. When the damage reaches your pulp, you will experience discomfort. This is because the pulp gets irritated and swollen. Since your tooth cannot expand, the swelling will cause pressure and nerve pain. Hence, you will experience intense pain that sometimes spreads to the jaw. The later stages of tooth decay usually require a root canal treatment.

5. Dental Abscess

The fifth tooth decay stage occurs when bacteria enter the pulp, causing infection. You might observe an abscess at the tip of your tooth’s root. An abscess is a pocket of pus that might look like a pimple or bump on the gum. In addition, you will suffer from the excruciating pain that can spread to the jaw. Other than this, these symptoms might also appear:

  • Swelling in face, jaw, and gums.
  • Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
  • Fever

Tooth Decay Treatment

The tooth decay treatment depends on the stages. It can look like this:

  • Fluoride treatment for demineralization can reverse tooth decay
  • Dental filling for enamel and dentin decay, but the dentist might place a crown if the third stage is advanced.
  • Root canal treatment for pulp damage and abscess to clear out the infection
  • Antibiotics for tooth abscess
  • In some cases, tooth extraction is needed if the tooth decay is in an advanced stage.

What to Do Now?

Tooth decay has five stages, from white spots on teeth to a pimple on the gum. The earlier you identify and address it, the more chances of saving your tooth and keeping it healthy. Sticking to proper oral hygiene and taking good care of your teeth are also important. Plus, do not skip your dental cleanings, examinations, and check-ups. You can also visit our experts at Luxe Dental Arts or give us a call on (281) 969-7456.