The Five Stages of Dental Decay: Staley Family Dentistry

The Five Stages of Dental Decay: Staley Family Dentistry

Dec 01, 2022

What Is Dental Decay?

It is the process of teeth damage occurring due to harmful bacteria and acids in the mouth. Ideally, when you eat food, the bacteria in your mouth break it down, releasing acids. Over time, the acids combine with bacteria, saliva, and other food residues in your mouth to form a sticky substance called plaque. Plaque eventually hardens to form tartar, which starts damaging teeth enamel. The longer you go without treatment, the more advanced the decay process becomes.

What Are the 5 Stages of Dental Decay?

Patients experience dental decay in five different stages. Ideally, every stage is worse than the previous. They are:

  1. Demineralization‌ – is the initial stage of tooth decay. At this stage, the enamel begins to weaken due to the loss of minerals. It occurs when plaque is left on teeth surfaces long enough. as the demineralization occurs, you may start to identify white spots or specs on your teeth. In this stage, you can reverse the damage by considering fluoride treatments in family dentistry in Terre Haute.
  2. Enamel decay – this stage features small holes that begin to develop on teeth’ enamel. The white spots during demineralization‌ begin to darken, appearing brown or black. These are the initial stages of cavities or dental caries formation. The best treatment for enamel decay is dental fillings in Terre Haute, IN. The oral fillings seal the holes to prevent further damage to the tooth.
  3. Dentin decay – dentin is the second layer of teeth underneath the enamel. If you do not get dental fillings near you, the bacterial infection breaches the enamel, then penetrates the dentin layer. Since the dentin is softer than the enamel, you will begin to experience tooth sensitivity during dentin decay. Besides, the decay process occurs faster when the dentin suffers damage. Therefore, you will continually notice increased sensitivity, especially to hot and cold foods and drinks.
  4. Pulp damage – the pulp is the central layer of a tooth underneath the dentin. It houses soft tissues like connective tissues, blood vessels, and nerve endings. Therefore, the pulp helps keep the tooth healthy, sensitive, and nourished. The bacterial infection gets into the pulp cavity, causing irritation and inflammation. Since there isn’t extra room for the pressure to leave the tooth, the nerve endings contain the pressure within the tooth. The result is severe dental pain that causes toothaches, gum pain and swelling, headaches, and other symptoms. Pulp damage is best addressed through endodontic procedures. They entail removing the damaged soft tissues in the tooth to disallow the progression of the decay process.
  5. Abscess – is the most advanced stage of dental decay. The infection bypasses the pulp and enters the roots of the teeth. The result is an abscess that forms at the base of the tooth. It features a pocket of pus that radiates severe pain and causes swelling. You may begin to experience swelling in your gums and surrounding soft tissues. In more severe cases, an abscess allows the bacteria in the mouth to spread to other body parts, like the head and neck, through the blood. In such stages, our dentists at Staley Family Dentistry must employ radical measures like tooth extraction. Such is necessary to discontinue damage in your oral and general health.

What Causes Tooth Decay?

The particular cause of dental decay is plaque and acids in your mouth. However, various factors can increase the risk of dental decay. The common ones are:

  1. Poor oral hygiene – failing to brush and floss teeth daily allows plaque to settle on teeth surfaces. Eventually, the plaque will develop into tartar and introduce a range of oral problems.
  2. Gum disease – sometimes, the infection in your gums can impact your teeth’ health.
  3. High intake of sugary and starchy foods – these foods increase acidity in your mouth, aggravating the decay process.
  4. Family history of cavities
  5. Receding gums – recession exposes your tooth roots, increasing the risk of damage.
  6. Dry mouth syndrome – inadequate moisture in your mouth increases acidity, risking dental decay. Various factors can compromise your saliva’s quality, including medication like antidepressants or health conditions like Sjogren’s syndrome.

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