Tooth decay is not something to take lightly. In fact, it’s something to remain on the lookout for, as even those with a great oral care routine can experience tooth decay. Thankfully, the first stage of decay is the easiest stage to recognize and begin to take corrective actions. Here is a breakdown of the five stages of tooth decay, and the warning signs to look out for.
Stage One: White Spots
In this stage, the tooth begins to show signs of strain from attacking sugars and acids. White spots will begin to materialize just below the surface of the enamel. They are telltale signs that demineralization of the tooth has begun. But, it can be easy to miss because they’re likely to occur on you or your child’s molars first. Your dentist should be able to catch such warning signs during regular cleanings.
In the first stage of decay, this can be repaired without the need for extraction. Whether you’re a child or an adult, the application of fluoride via fluoride treatments, your toothpaste, salivation, the foods you eat, and even the local water supply can help re-mineralize the tooth and stop a cavity from penetrating through the enamel and reaching its second stage.
Stage Two: Enamel Decay
This is the beginning of the end for the surface enamel that is being attacked. Once a cavity breaks through the surface of the enamel, there is no turning back, and you or your child will need to have the cavity corrected with a filling. Teeth erode from the underside outward, so the outer enamel will still be intact for the first half of this second stage, but will be the next target.
Stage Three: Dentin Decay
Stage three is where you will notice a serious cause for concern if you or your dentist have missed the first two. This is the stage where patients begin experiencing pain, that is because the cavity begins to eat away at the second level of tooth material that lies beneath the enamel called dentin. A filling can still be used to stop bacteria from assaulting the tooth to prevent the cavity from reaching the tooth’s pulp.
Stage Four: Involvement of The Pulp
Once the infection reaches the pulp it’s going to hurt a lot. This is a serious point in the progression of decay where a root canal or full extraction will be evaluated by your dentist as the next phase of action.
Stage Five: Abscess Formation
At this point, the infection has reached the tip of the root and exited the tip of the tooth’s structure. It has infected the surrounding tissues and possibly the bone structure. Syou will likely experience swelling and severe pain. In children (as well as adults) an abscess can be fatal if not appropriately dealt with immediately.
Cavities don’t happen overnight. In the early stages, regular visits can stall and reverse the progression of decay, so it’s important to pay your regular visit the dentist. Catch cavities before they catch up to you by keeping the stages of decay in mind as you continue to care for your and your child’s teeth.
To learn more about our practice or view the beautiful smiles Dr. Yankowskas has created, visit us online at www.tyngsborocosmeticdentist.com.
Dr. Yankowskas proudly serves patients from Tyngsboro and all surrounding areas.