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Five Stages of Tooth Decay

Five stages of tooth decay

When you come in for your teeth cleaning, what is one of your thoughts when you sit down in the dental chair? Is it oh man, I hope I don’t have a cavity?! If that is you, you certainly aren’t alone. This is one of the reasons though coming to see us every six months for a dental cleaning is so important. There are different stages of tooth decay and we can help catch it earlier before it causes you any pain.

5 Stages of Tooth Decay

1) White Spots

These spots appear just below the surface of the enamel and are hard to spot to the naked eye. White spot lesions are areas of weakened enamel that have the potential to turn into cavities if not addressed. Your dental hygienist will be able to see them during a cleaning. At this point, it can be repaired without the need to excavate the tooth. With proper cleaning and fluoride treatments we can help you care for this tooth.

2) Enamel Decay

The enamel is the outer layer of the tooth and at this stage it is beginning to disappear. After this stage is completed there will be no other option but to have the cavity fixed with a filling.

3) Dentin Decay

At this phase the enamel is gone and the cavity is beginning to eat away at the next layer called dentin. During this phase you may start feeling some pain from the cavity. You will need a filling to repair the tooth, but it is still beneficial to recognize it at this stage before it continues into the main part of the tooth. This is the point you want to catch it at… or else your facing quite a bit of pain from the cavity.

4) The Pulp

Once the cavity has made it to the core of your tooth (the pulp), it is going to hurt. If all the other stages have been missed, you certainly need to give our office a call with this level of pain. At this point you will most likely need to have a root canal to repair the cavity.

5) Abscess

The final stage of a cavity is when the infection has reached the root. At this point you would continue to be in pain and most likely starting to see swelling. Typically at this point in the life of a cavity we would need to remove the entire tooth.

Questions About Tooth Decay?

The prevention of cavities is key – daily tooth brushing and flossing will help. Also, come to see us every six months so that we can check for the first three stages of tooth decay you may miss. It will be much easier to fix at those stages than getting to stage four and five. We are here for you and helping keep your teeth as healthy as possible!