Understanding The 6 Stages Of Tooth Decay

Understanding The 6 Stages Of Tooth Decay

Get closer to your teeth with Abbey Road Dental!

One of the main reasons teeth hurt is because of dental decay. This begins when enamel starts to break down and tiny areas of decay develop on the surface of the tooth.

“Bad” bacteria naturally present in the mouth create an acid bi-product which in turn eats away at the teeth, starting the process.

At some stages of decay, the teeth can be recovered with appropriate dental work coupled with improved oral hygiene. However, if it is left too late, a different level of dental restoration may be needed to restore teeth. Indeed, if left too long, it may not be possible to save the tooth.

It is a really good idea to understand the stages of decay so that you can be aware of your own oral health, and how to prevent things from getting any worse, alongside the guidance of your dentist.

Stage 1

The very first stage of tooth decay is when little white patches appear on the very outer layer of the teeth. This happens because the tooth is starting to lose calcium, and plaque has started to build up. As the bacteria in the mouth produce more acid bi-product, the tooth begins to slowly demineralise. This stage of decay is a really important warning sign and can even be reversed or stopped in its tracks by the correct treatment. Your NW8 dentist can speak to you about caring for your teeth and stopping the progression of any decay. As well as treatment, we will also emphasise the importance of an excellent dental hygiene regimen.

Stage 2

During the second stage of decay the lower level of enamel begins to deteriorate and there is no decay reversal available at this stage. The enamel and minerals will degrade and cause a small area of damage. The decay will continue to cause damage at this stage and the tooth will weaken and become susceptible to breaking. In the event that your tooth breaks you should always seek dental attention quickly.

Stage 3

During the third stage of dental decay the dentin inside the tooth is at risk. The damage that began at stage two continues to develop as the acids produced by bacteria continue to attack the enamel. The dentin, the middle section between the pulp and the enamel, could be at risk of decay at this stage and the tooth may become painful as the infection progresses.

Once enough of the tooth is weakened through enamel loss and dentin deterioration, a cavity is fully formed and you will require your Abbey Road dentist to apply a white or silver filling. You can find out more information about fillings on our website fillings page.

Stage 4

Stage 4 of dental decay is where the middle of the tooth, otherwise known as the pulp, is infected. So, the decay has gone through the enamel, through the dentin and now the pulp of the tooth is under attack. The pulp is full of tissue and cells and if it becomes infected, the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth will be killed off. This is likely to cause toothache with that familiar throbbing pain. Unless the decay is very far advanced, we will usually try root canal treatment to save the tooth. You can read more about root canal treatment at Abbey Road Dental on our website page.

Stage 5

At stage 5 of tooth decay the tooth is very, very painful and can pose a threat to your overall health. During this stage the infection that reached the pulp travels to the tip of the tooth root and causes the formation of a dental abscess. All surrounding bones, gums and tissues can be affected by the infection and you may be at risk of a blood infection, so emergency dental treatment should be sought. You may feel a deep throbbing pain, swelling, enlargement of the glands in your neck, and heat in the affected area. You might have a fever and feel generally unwell. Please seek emergency treatment if you suspect you have an abscess as a blood infection can be fatal.

Stage 6

If there has been no treatment of tooth decay during these stages then the tooth has to be extracted. Extraction is always a last resort for a dentist who is in the business of saving teeth if possible.

Preventing Dental Decay

In every situation we will use every treatment and piece of patient education we can to help you save your teeth. Prevention is always better than cure and we want to help all our patients keep their natural teeth for life if possible.

There are two main pieces of advice we would always give patients to help them avoid dental decay. The first is to consistently attend your dental checkups. The earlier that any issues can be detected, the sooner any treatment or preventative measures can be applied to stop it getting any worse. It can save you much money, time and pain having regular checkups with us. The second piece of advice is to maintain your oral hygiene daily. Brush properly twice a day for two minutes and please reach out if you require further guidance on doing it more effectively. Our hygienist is dedicated to oral hygiene and preventing decay and gum disease and additional sessions with her may be a solid investment for the future of your smile.

Make An Appointment At Abbey Road Dental Today To Help Prevent Tooth Decay

If you are concerned about tooth decay, or want to continue to maintain great oral health, please call us on 02076241603. We are here to help you avoid losing your teeth, and to maintain healthy and happy teeth for life. Prevention is our focus, but we also have plenty of refined treatments available should you require restorative work to keep your smile in great shape.

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