Blog August 2017

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5 Stages of Tooth Decay

Posted On: August 01, 2017

   

Five Stages of Tooth Decay

Did you know there are five distinct stages of tooth decay? And that in the first stage of decay, you can actually take steps to reverse the progression of the disease? Indeed, it’s true. In the first stage of decay, whether you’re a child or an adult, the application of fluoride via fluoride treatments, your toothpaste and your local water supply can stop a cavity from penetrating through the enamel and reaching its second stage. Even the saliva in your mouth and the foods you eat help to re-mineralize a tooth in jeopardy. But that’s just the first stage! What about the rest? Understanding how a cavity progresses can assist you in preventing each successive stage from occurring in your family's 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 most likely to occur in the back of the mouth, molar area.  A dental exam, of course, is designed to catch such cavities!  Can you see why regular visits to Baylee Dental are recommended?  As mentioned previously, at this stage, the cavity can be repaired without the need to excavate the tooth.

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 were to progress beyond stage two without you knowing, you’d tend become aware of it 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, a screaming child or moaning teenager or your tooth will certainly let you know there is a big problem. Stage four is serious, and a root canal is the best option of treatment at this stage.  “Should you have a tooth that has reached this stage, we would work with our endodontist partner to help treat and bring you back to good health.”

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. In children (as well as adults) 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 these dastardly little devils, so it really does pay to visit the dentist at pre-selected intervals.

 Need to see us?  Call Baylee Dental at 352-307-3006 or email to: info@bayleedental.com and one of our patient coordinators can help you.                


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