Did you know that tooth decay does not usually happen overnight? According to experts, before your tooth completely decays, it has to undergo five distinct stages. Over time, you will advance your tooth decay, with each step becoming more and more challenging to treat. Therefore, if you aspire to improve your oral health, it is best to reverse the progression as early as possible. But how can you do so if you do not know how to identify the different tooth decay stages?
Luckily, this article will help you understand how a cavity develops so you can prevent each stage from occurring. Read further to find out more.
Understanding Tooth Decay
First, let us define what tooth decay is. Tooth decay, otherwise known as dental caries, is a common diet-related condition that can pose damages to your oral health. It typically begins when a plaque buildup turns sugar into an acid.
Without the proper treatment and intervention, the plaque develops into a bacterial infection. It then leads to a dental emergency, opening up a series of concerns, such as abscess formation and pulp damage.
Tooth Decay Stages
There are different stages of cavity progression. Since tooth decay does not occur all at once, it would be best to go through the usual symptoms and discuss the recommended restorative treatment suitable for each stage.
Stage One: The Initial Formation of Lesions
During the early stages of tooth decay, discoloration around the tooth area happens. This manifestation serves as an initial sign of demineralization.
Usually, the cavities present would not yet show up on dental x-rays, increasing the risk for the lesion to be left unnoticed. However, when left without proper treatment, it could develop and become a full-blown cavity. Therefore, it is necessary to regularly visit your dentist to detect the unusual formation of lesions. A dental professional can help stop the progression of your condition by providing treatments that will protect your tooth enamel from damages.
In most cases, your dentists might suggest fluoride solutions, dental sealants, and other oral treatments strengthen your tooth enamel. Additionally, you can also do your part by brushing and flossing daily to prevent the cavity from getting worse.
Stage Two: Enamel Decay
For the second stage of tooth decay, there is actual damage to the tooth enamel. The enamel, which is the topmost layer of a tooth, is also one of the hardest and strongest materials that you can find in the human body. As the bacterial infection develops, it starts to wear and eat away the tooth’s enamel. The result of this damage is what we commonly call a cavity.
Your dentist can quickly treat enamel decay. The majority of these cases involve the use of oral fillings to stop the progression of small cavities. This restoration process will help you regain the missing tooth enamel to strengthen and improve the tooth’s structure.
Stage Three: Dentin Deterioration
Dentin is a porous substance that lies underneath the tooth enamel. It often appears in a yellowish and off-white color. Despite its durability, dentin may not be as solid as tooth enamel. Because of the porous nature of the dentin, tooth decay can spread rapidly. Therefore, extreme tooth sensitivity can develop as a warning sign of dentin deterioration.
Luckily, many dental restorative practices can help resolve dentin deterioration. However, fillings may not be sufficient under these circumstances. More extensive restorations are usually preferable, such as dental crowns, on lays, and inlays. Moreover, you can determine the type of restoration to use by the degree of tooth decay.
Stage Four: Root Canal Infection
Within each tooth, you can find a thin clump of soft tissue called the dental pulp. This substance houses a network of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissues. As bacterial infection reaches the pulp, an inflammation will develop, otherwise known as a root canal infection.
Of course, root canal therapy is the ideal method to cure pulp damage from a root canal infection. During the procedure, the dentist removes the diseased pulp within the tooth and replaces the filling within the pulp chamber. Then, a dental crown caps off the treated tooth.
However, there are severe cases wherein there aren’t enough chances to cannot save the tooth. When root canal therapy may not be enough to restore pulp damage, your dentist may suggest the final resort to undergo a tooth extraction.
Stage Five: Oral Abscess Formation
A dental abscess begins to form when there is a continuous spread of infection due to cavity and plaque buildup. It often appears as an accumulation of bacteria and pus within the soft tissues. When an oral abscess develops, the patient must exercise extreme caution to avoid it from bursting. If the abscess bursts, it may lead to a bodily shock, infection, and various complications.
To safely drain the abscess, you will need to address it to a dental professional. Doing so can help avoid further infection and keep bacteria under control. Your dentist may prescribe some antibiotic treatment and antiseptic medications to prevent reinfection.
Prevention of Tooth Decay
If you want to prevent tooth decay, it is essential to keep these tips in mind:
Avoid Dry Mouth
A dry mouth, or a lack of saliva, will increase the chances of developing tooth decay. Saliva is an effective natural anti-cavity defense. It helps wash away the sugar left from your mouth and drain it into your stomach. Your saliva helps in several ways. It eliminates plaque, reduces the damaging effects of acid from bacteria, and fixes tooth minerals to reverse the early stages of tooth decay.
Use Fluoride-containing Products
Fluoride is one of the most relevant elements in terms of enamel protection. It helps strengthen your teeth while providing enough protection against acids. Nowadays, Fluoride use has become quite a staple because of its oral health benefits, which is why many people are also looking at utilizing Fluoridated tap water as a part of their oral care routine.
Maintain Oral Hygiene
Preventing tooth decay takes as little effort as brushing twice a day and flossing before bedtime. Good oral hygiene helps in the control of harmful bacteria. Since brushing alone is not enough to eliminate all bacteria, flossing around the gaps between your teeth is necessary to complete your routine.
Aside from having a well-balanced diet, dentists recommend avoiding sugary foods and beverages. If the situation does not permit you to avoid sweets as a part of your meal, it is crucial to brush your teeth soon after. Since acid formation begins from sugar and bacteria, washing away the sugar is a significant step towards preventing cavities.
Get Regular Dental Check-ups
As experts always advocate, many dental concerns are not visible by the naked eye. Getting a routine check from a licensed professional will help detect unusual signs of oral problems. Early detection can go a long way, and the treatment process can be much easier.
If you want to maintain your oral health, it is best to follow the abovementioned information and do your part to avoid worsening your condition. With the proper mindset and responsibility, you’re well on your way towards an ultimate knock-out smile.