The term tooth decay is very general. While it is always scary to hear that you have a decaying tooth, you may not realize that there are different stages of tooth decay.
The type of treatment offered depends on the stage of the decay. When you learn the stages, you become more likely to catch a problem at an earlier stage and save yourself a lot of trouble.
The Early Stages of Dental Decay
The best time to stop tooth decay is during the early stages. Regular visits to the dentists is a good way to learn about the possible problems and what the solutions are. In the early stages of tooth decay, white spots will appear on the surface of the teeth. This is due to plaque and the loss of calcium. At this stage it is possible to reverse the damage through good oral hygiene habits.
If the decay continues, the enamel will start to erode. The enamel is a layer of protection for the tooth. If caught early enough, it is possible to stop the decay and repair the damage. If left untreated, the enamel will continue to decay, and bacteria will find places to grow.
As Tooth Decay Continues
As the decay of the tooth continues the cavity moves on to different stages. After enamel decay, the next stage is dentin decay. The dentin is the part of the tooth that is between the enamel and the pulp of the tooth. As the enamel collapses, a cavity forms and a filling is necessary to fix the problem.
When the decay gets to the tooth, the damage is harder to fix. The bacteria will continue to attack the tooth and toothaches ensue. The solution to this stage is often root canal therapy. Without treatment, an abscess can form.
This is an infection that can not only involve the teeth but can spread to the rest of the body. Treatment involves antibiotics and oral surgery. The last stage is the removal of the tooth. When it is beyond repair, the tooth must come out.
We recommend that people get help for cavities as early as possible. The treatment only gets harder the longer a person waits.
If you are worried about a possible cavity or want to get a checkup, please contact our offices today.