5 Tooth Decay Stages | Treatments & Prevention

Dec 30, 2021 | Blogs

Are you wondering what the stages of tooth decay are? If yes, read along to explore tooth decay stages. We will also give you some on how to prevent it from happening.

Tooth decay is damage to a tooth caused by plaque turning sugars into acid. It can potentially lead to early cavities, tooth abscesses, and even tooth loss.

You can develop tooth decay when plaque builds up in your mouth over time. The bacteria in plaque convert sugars into acid, causing damage to your teeth.

Since tooth decay develops in several stages, let’s talk about each of them!

Stages of tooth decay

Plaque is an important element in the tooth decay process. This sticky film covering your tooth’s surface is made up of bacteria, food debris, and saliva.

If you don’t clean your teeth regularly, plaque will begin to form. It will also harden over time, forming a biofilm called tartar.

This tartar can act as a protection for bacteria, making it difficult for you to remove them.

There are generally five stages of tooth decay.

Stage 1: Demineralization

Your tooth’s outer layer is composed of the hardest tissue in your body, called enamel. It is mostly made up of minerals. But as acids produced by plaque come in contact with a tooth, the enamel starts to lose its minerals. You may notice white spots on your teeth when this occurs. This process is called demineralization, which is the initial sign of tooth decay.

Stage 2: Enamel decay

If you don’t stop tooth decay during the initial stage, the enamel will further break down. You may see white spots turning into darker spots on your teeth in this stage. You may also notice small holes in your teeth called cavities as enamel weakens.

You will need to have dental fillings if you have developed cavities.

Stage 3: Dentin decay

Dentin is the inner layer of your tooth. It’s softer than enamel, making it more sensitive to damage. That’s why decay progresses faster once it reaches the dentin. This part of your tooth also contains tubes leading to nerves. You will likely experience severe tooth sensitivity when your tooth decay proceeds to stage 3.

Stage 4: Pulp damage

The pulp is the innermost part of your tooth, having the blood vessels and nerves to keep your teeth healthy. These nerves also provide sensation to the tooth. That’s why it may start to swell or irritate when tooth decay proceeds to the pulp. During this decay stage, you may experience severe tooth pain and swelling. However, your dentist may recommend a root canal treatment to treat pulp damage.

Stage 5: Tooth abscess

As tooth decay progresses into the pulp, bacteria can enter and cause an infection. This can lead to a pocket of pus formation called an abscess. It may cause severe pain and further infection in the jaw, face, or brain. This stage of tooth decay requires immediate treatment before it penetrates to other areas of your body.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay

Take the following measures to prevent tooth decay:

  • Maintain good oral hygiene by brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste and floss daily.
  • Clean your teeth every time you eat acidic, sugary, or sticky foods.
  • Visit your dentist every six months for routine cleaning and check-up.
  • Ask your dentist for dental sealants to protect your molars from decay.

If you’re experiencing tooth pain or swelling, please visit the dentist in Friendswood, TX. We will evaluate your condition and suggest the best solution for your dental problem. Give us a call today at (832)-895-1905.