Knowing the stages of tooth decay can help you make dental choices to avoid a root canal or loss of teeth. Various types of food can cause damage to your teeth. When the food sticks between your teeth, it causes a reaction due to the acidic nature of the saliva. If you sleep without cleaning your teeth, you will develop cavities. As a result, your tooth will start to decay. Tooth decay damages the enamel first and then the rest of your tooth. This process comprises five stages. If you don’t take serious action in the early stages, the damage will reach your gums. The only solution for extreme tooth decay is a tooth extraction or root canal. Learn more about the five stages of tooth decay in the following article.
What Is Tooth Decay?
Consuming food with a high carbohydrate concentration can cause tooth decay. These foods include bread, fruits, candy, milk, and other items that stick to your teeth. Bacteria inside the mouth consume these food particles and convert them into acid. As a result, plaque will accumulate on your teeth.
Plaque dissolves the enamel on your teeth due to its acidic nature, effectively creating a cavity. The cavity is a hole in your teeth that leads to the tooth pulp. The pulp inside your teeth is the last layer and includes nerves and blood vessels. Here are some symptoms of tooth decay:
- Pain while chewing
- Dark spots of teeth
- Sudden tooth pain
- Cavities or caries
Stages of Tooth Decay
Plaque is build-up on the teeth, which may lead to tartar and tooth decay. Tartar acts as a protective layer for bacteria. The development of tartar will make it difficult for you to eliminate bacteria, which causes further damage. Let’s understand the five stages of tooth decay:
1. Initial Demineralization
Different layers make up a tooth. The outermost layer is enamel, and it protects the inner layers of the tooth from damage. Enamel is the hardest tissue of the body composed of minerals. When you develop plaque, it attracts bacteria-producing acid. When this happens, the enamel starts losing its minerals. White spots on your tooth are a sign of mineral loss.
2. Enamel Decay
If the tooth decay process continues, it weakens and breaks the enamel. As a result, the white spots will turn brownish. Because of weak enamel, cavities will appear on your tooth. You must visit a professional endodontist to fill the cavities. Are you looking for an endodontist in NYC? You should consult with experts at Bryant Park Endodontics.
3. Dentin Decay
Underneath the enamel, there is another layer of tissue called dentin. This layer is softer and more delicate than enamel. Therefore, when the damage reaches this layer, it increases the decay process. The tubes in the dentin reach the nerves located in the tooth pulp. This will cause sensitivity, especially when you drink or eat something hot or cold.
4. Pulp Damage
The tooth pulp is the inmost layer of a tooth, which contains blood vessels and nerves. These nerves and vessels keep your tooth strong and healthy. You will feel a sensation in your tooth because of these nerves. Damage to the pulp can cause irritation and swelling. Tissues surrounding the pulp are rigid and cause pain due to swelling. The swelling of the pulp and stiffness of the tissues puts pressure on the nerves, resulting in severe pain.
When bacteria invade the pulp, it develops an infection. The inflammation in the tooth forms pus, which is called an abscess. Tooth abscesses can cause pain throughout the jaw. Other symptoms for tooth abscesses include swelling of the jaw, face, or gums. Besides swelling and pain, you may also experience fever and swollen lymph nodes. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the bones as well as the neck and head. A professional endodontist will recommend tooth removal to reduce the spread.
Prevention from Tooth Decay
To prevent tooth decay, you need to stop plaque from building up on your tooth. Here is what you should do:
- Brush your teeth twice a day, especially before you sleep. Leaving food between your teeth overnight will develop plaque.
- Floss and rinse your mouth after you eat. This will remove all the food particles from your mouth, preventing bacterial accumulation on enamel.
- Drink fluoride water.
- Fluoride mouth wash will also eliminate plaque.
- Use interdental floss and cleaner.
- Regularly visit your dentist.
- Get dental sealants on your molars.
The best prevention from tooth decay starts by keeping an eye on what you consume. For instance, you should avoid carbonated drinks, caramel, candy, and sweets. Even if you eat these food items, brush or floss right away. You will likely develop tooth decay when you go to sleep without brushing.
Stages of Tooth Decay: Conclusion
Tooth decay is a critical dental condition that leads to tooth loss. Visit Bryant Park Endodontics and consult with a professional endodontist for your dental health. It would be better if you visit the doctor upon identifying the symptoms of the first stage.
Want to talk to our experts? Give us a call and make an appointment today.
Bryant Part Endodontics
Young Bui, DDS
30 East 40th Street Suite 1201
New York, NY 10016