Ever went to your dentist just to be informed that you have a developing tooth decay? What a nightmare! Though it may sound like it is not that serious, just the thought of the possibility of having many tooth cavities can easily scare anyone. The first step in facing this dental problem is to know the tooth cavity stages so you and your dentist can plan ahead of time about the ways to correct and treat it before it leads to tooth loss or severe infection.
Are Cavities the Same As Tooth Decay?
The words dental cavities, decay, and caries are mostly getting interchanged, all of them having the same meaning. Your dentist may say that you have tooth decay if he sees damage in the enamel or the hard surface of your teeth. Cavities or dental caries may start forming, making your teeth stained, chipped, and weak.
Tooth Cavity Stages
Do you know how you help tooth decay develop in your mouth? Poor dental hygiene, wrong choice of food and drinks, and vices like smoking and use of illegal drugs can badly affect the condition of your teeth and gums, among other things. You need to start thinking about the consequences of your actions before they become too difficult to resolve. Here, we intend to show you the different Tooth Cavity Stages so you can watch out for yourself any signs of impending damage or disease.
First Tooth Cavity Stage: Early Spots
At first glance, you may not see the damage that you present to your teeth. But the keen eye of your dentist can determine that the white or brown spots that are starting to form on the surface of your teeth do not just mean staining. This is where the demineralization of your teeth begins.
The bacteria that linger inside your mouth settles on the surface of your teeth. It feeds off the food debris left with them and excretes acid that damages the enamel. This affects the shine and smoothness of the tooth surface, causing the demineralization and appearance of white spots.
Second Tooth Cavity Stage: Enamel Damage
If the bacteria continue to eat off of the enamel, further breakdown of the tooth shells can happen. Remember that the enamel is the hardest part of the teeth, so destroying or damaging this part is difficult and would take time. But, if you are continuously neglecting your dental hygiene and not maintaining good brushing habits, instances like these can happen.
Once your enamel gets damaged, further demineralization and erosion can follow. That becomes possible because the integrity of the shells has started to weaken, allowing the bacteria to make holes in your tooth.
Third Tooth Cavity Stage: Dentin Decay
Now that the bacteria were able to surpass the enamel surface of your tooth, they may find it easier to destroy the next tooth layer, the dentin. As the dentin, the second layer after the enamel, gets affected by bacteria, you may start to feel symptoms of tooth decay or tooth cavities, like tooth sensitivity. This happens since the dentin layer contains soft dental tissue that leads to the nerves.
Fourth Tooth Cavity Stage: Pulp involvement
Now that the bacteria travelled deep with the tooth, they would not stop there. Of course, there is nowhere else to go but deeper. In comes the pulp, the innermost layer of the tooth that houses the nerve roots and blood vessels that supply the necessary nutrition of our pearly whites.
If this part gets contaminated by the bacteria, you may suddenly feel stung and in pain. Pus formation, inflammation, and redness of the gums may happen, signaling the severity of the infection has taken place.
Fifth Tooth Cavity Stage: Tooth loss
When all else fails, and no treatment can ever stop the bacteria from damaging your tooth, the dentist can no longer recommend salvaging the crown. Tooth extraction is the next best thing to stop the bacteria from spreading. This also prevents bacterial infection from spreading in other parts of the body via the blood vessels and nerves in the tooth root.
Treatment for Each of Tooth Cavity Stages
We mentioned each of the Tooth Cavity Stages because you want to give you the awareness and knowledge about your dental health. This allows you to find ways to how you can address each issue in every stage of the tooth decay.
- First Stage
Once you see faded white spots on your teeth, do not panic. Although this may entail the start of tooth decay, it does not mean that the enamel is completely destroyed. You can still prevent tooth cavities by getting fluoride treatments. Dentists have given this through gel application, varnish, or rinse. This mineral strengthens the enamel and provides a second invisible barrier for the enamel to withstand the damaging properties of the bacteria.
- Second Stage
Fillings can address the damage your enamel experienced during this stage of tooth damage. The dentist cleans your teeth, removing any damaged tissues and cavities so when putting in the fillings on each hole, no bacteria will get trapped and linger inside.
- Third Stage
Once the bacteria reach the dentin, everything under these parts becomes smooth-sailing for them. Its travel to deeper components of the teeth becomes faster, damaging anything that gets in their way.
Your dentist may try to save the crown, but it still depends on the condition of your overall health and the extent of damage the bacteria caused. He may decide to replace your broken tooth with a crown. This dental device looks like the presentable part of the tooth, mimicking the size, shape, and color of the tooth.
- Fourth Stage
It might sound as if it’s all over if the bacteria infected the pulp inside the tooth root. But, there is hope. Root canal therapy is a dental procedure that removes the bacterial growth that reached the innermost part of the tooth, which causes pus formation and further damage to the dental integrity of the patient.
The procedure starts with creating a hole or opening on a part of the tooth, making it easier for the dentist to suction out or scrape the pus or bacterial materials away from the pulp in the tooth root.
Unbeknownst to many, the main misconception root canal therapy gets has to do with the pain. The truth is because the procedure entails manipulation of the tooth area where nerves are located, dentists opt to administer anesthesia just to make the patient calm and relaxed.
- Fifth Stage
Unfortunately, if the bacteria severely damages the tooth, there is no other way for the dentist but to extract or remove it. Tooth loss, once warranted, is inevitable. The only way to address this involves getting an implant or dentures as a replacement once it has healed.
You can prevent tooth decay from happening, just like any other dental problem. All you need is a willing heart to maintain proper dental hygiene, make smart choices when it comes to food selection, and avoid vices and other unhealthy habits. Routine dental consultations at least 2 times a year become more necessary than ever, especially if you already notice any signs of tooth decay.
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