Dental decay is a common disease of our teeth. It is a progressive disease that affects hard tooth tissue and is stimulated by the action of bacteria that accumulate and create plaque. If in any case,it is not treated early,decay can cause necrosis of the pulp and moreover, create an abscess at the top of the tooth root and extraction usually follows.
Dental decay is caused by plaque acids that gradually dissolve away the enamel and dentin of the tooth. Decay damages your teeth and may lead to the tooth needing to be filled or even taken out.
Did you know there are five distinct stages of tooth decay?
Understanding how a cavity progresses can assist you in preventing each successive stage from occurring in your mouth.
Stage One: White Spots
In stage one, the tooth begins to show signs of strain from the attack of sugars and acids, and white spots will begin to materialize just below the surface of the enamel. These white spots are representative of the demineralization of the tooth and can be easy to miss because they’re likely to occur on your child’s molars. A dental exam, of course, is designed to catch such cavities!
Stage Two: Enamel Decay
Stage two marks the beginning of the end for the surface enamel that is being attacked. Initially, the tooth erodes from the underside outward, so the outer enamel will still be intact for the first half of this second stage. Once the cavity breaks through the surface of the enamel, there is no turning back, and you will need to have the cavity corrected with a filling.
Stage Three: Dentin Decay
If a cavity in your mouth progresses beyond stage two, you’d tend become aware of it when it started to hit stage three because it would probably start to cause some pain. At this level, the cavity begins to eat away at the second level of tooth material that lies beneath the enamel: the dentin. A filling can still be used to stop the onslaught of bacteria assaulting the tooth in order to prevent the cavity from reaching the tooth’s most critical component: the pulp.
Stage Four: Involvement of The Pulp
Once the cavity reaches the pulp, it’s going to hurt. A lot. So if you’ve unfortunately missed all the signs to this point, unbearable pain will certainly let you know there is a big problem. Stage four is serious, and a root canal is the only option of treatment at this stage, save for a complete extraction.
Stage Five: Abscess Formation
In the fifth and final stage of a cavity, the infection has reached the tip of the root and exited the tip of the tooth’s structure. This in turn infects the surrounding tissues and possibly the bone structure. Swelling would be commonplace and pain severe. An abscess can be fatal if not dealt with immediately. Root canal or extraction would be the order of the day should decay reach this stage.
As you can see, cavities don’t happen overnight. In the early stages, regular visits can stall and reverse the progression of the disease, so it really does pay to visit the dentist at pre-selected intervals.
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Athina Tsiorva - You Smile Dental Care