The 5 Main Stages of Tooth Decay

Table of Contents

What to Look for & How You Can Stop It Before It’s Too Late!

Your teeth may look great right now, but how do you keep healthy in the long run? And don’t you want to make sure you’re not at risk of cavities and tooth decay?

Tooth decay, also known as a cavity or cavities, is an extremely common condition in which a person experiences permanent damage to their teeth. In the United States alone, over 3 million people have suffered from tooth decay.

If you are experiencing tooth pain, it’s most likely due to decay. Tooth decay is the primary cause of pain and discomfort in the teeth.

Decay results when the sugary foods you eat interact with the bacteria found in plaque. This interaction creates acidity that starts to eat away at the tooth’s surface.

What starts as a tiny spot on your tooth has the potential to lead to a much bigger problem. If left untreated, tooth decay can lead to serious infection or tooth loss. It can even start to affect other systems in the body.

As a result, tooth decay absolutely affects your overall health and well-being, and it’s important to realize when you need to take action.

Whether you’re starting to experience tooth decay, or if you want to keep your teeth decay-free, this article will show you…

  • The 5 main stages of tooth decay
  • How you can stop tooth decay before it gets serious
  • How to tell if you’re experiencing tooth decay right now
  • The many dangers of tooth decay

And much, much more…

First, let’s explore how tooth decay starts and what it could develop into.

The 5 Main Stages of Tooth Decay

Read on to discover how tooth decay presents itself in its most primary stage and how it gradually progresses towards the root of your tooth.

Stage #1: White Spots Start Showing up on Your Teeth

Having white teeth is a good thing, but having white spots on your teeth is not. Your first red flag of cavities and tooth decay shows up in the form of chalky white spots on the surface of your teeth. A combination of plaque, sugars and acids deteriorate healthy minerals in the teeth, causing these white spots.

To keep decay at a minimum, make a change during this preliminary phase. Be sure to engage in everyday oral care. It’s a good idea to visit your dentist and find out how you can prevent decay from progressing.

Stage #2: Your Enamel Breaks Down

In this second stage, tooth decay moves past the surface of the tooth and begins affecting your enamel. Weakened enamel results from demineralization of the teeth.

At this stage, you are at risk of cracked or broken teeth. If your tooth cracks or breaks, visit a dental healthcare provider immediately. Sometimes they can salvage and reattach the broken pieces.

Stage #3: Decay Moves Deeper Towards the Root

As decay progresses, it slowly inches its way towards the root of your tooth.

In this stage, decay diminishes your enamel and starts impacting your dentin. Dentin is the part of the tooth located underneath the enamel. It’s attached to the pulp, where all your sensitive nerves and blood vessels reside.

Once dentin is affected, you may start to feel heightened sensitivity in and around your teeth. That’s because the decay is working its way towards your nerves. To avoid further progression, report any tooth sensitivity to your dentist.

Stage #4: Decay Reaches the Tooth’s Center

As decay moves even deeper into the tooth and closer to the root, pain becomes more persistent.

In the fourth stage of tooth decay, the cavity progresses to the pulp, otherwise known as the tooth’s center. The tooth’s pulp houses nerves, blood vessels and living connective tissue known as odontoblasts. Decay assaults these sensitive areas, causing you a mouthful of pain.

Once decay reaches the pulp, you are at risk of experiencing inflammation, irritation, and infection. To avoid losing the tooth entirely, go see your Leander dentist ASAP.

Stage #5: An Abscess Forms in the Root of the Tooth

This final, most painful stage of decay happens at the root of the tooth.

In this stage, the cavity reaches the root and forms an abscess. This compromises your gums and the bones surrounding your mouth. In extreme cases, an infection can spread from the blood vessels straight to your brain.

When left untreated, a serious tooth infection can lead to a brain abscess, which can put you in a coma. More common cases of stage 5 tooth decay can cause your teeth to fall out.

If your tooth decay gets to this point, don’t wait to treat it. You may need a root canal or a tooth extraction. Consult your dentist right away to see which treatment plan is right for you.

Now that you know the 5 main stages of tooth decay, let’s take a look at how you can prevent tooth decay and stop it before it gets too serious

Next, we will reveal how to you can stop tooth decay in its tracks before it gets serious.

How To Stop Tooth Decay From Spreading

If you aren’t already, be sure to brush your teeth the right way at least 2-3 times per day, especially after eating or drinking something high in sugar.

Use a clean toothbrush, and replace it at least every 3-4 months.

Dentist’s tip: an electric toothbrush can help you reach the nooks and crannies your manual toothbrush can’t get to properly. Go electric to reduce your risk of plaque buildup, gum disease, and tooth decay.

Even if you are an avid brusher and you floss regularly, you’re still at risk of tooth decay. Prevent problems by visiting your Leander dentist every 6-12 months.

At your visit, your dentist will assess your teeth and clean them thoroughly. You’ll also leave with oral health care tips to use at home.

How to Tell If You’re Experiencing Tooth Decay

Early stages of tooth decay show up as white spots and tiny holes. It’s best to address tooth decay in its early stages so you can prevent serious infection or illness.

You don’t need to feel the pain to experience tooth decay, but if you are experiencing pain in your gums and teeth, this is the #1 warning sign of tooth decay. Visit your dentist to find relief as soon as possible.

The Many Dangers of Tooth Decay

As you now know, cavities and tooth decay can lead to other serious health complications.

When left untreated, stage 5 tooth decay can evolve into a much bigger problem. You can experience infected gums, missing teeth, deteriorated bones, and even brain damage. When you keep your teeth healthy, you protect your overall health and well-being.

Worried About Your Teeth?

The best way to gain peace of mind and maintain optimal oral health is by visiting a dental professional. Whether you’re experiencing tooth decay today or you want to stop it before it starts, the experts at Apple Springs Family Dentistry can help you.

Apple Springs Family Dentistry serves Williamson County, Texas and the greater Austin, Texas area. Click here or call 512-233-6610 to schedule your next dental appointment right now.



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