Tooth decay is oral damage that makes your teeth bad resulting in abscesses, cavities, or tooth loss. It is caused by specific types of bacteria that reside in the plaque. Tooth decay occurs in 5 different stages that will be discussed below.
Stages of tooth decay
Dental plaque is the main ingredient of tooth decay. Plaque consists of food debris, saliva, and bacteria. And it resides as a yellowish sticky film on the top surface of your teeth.
If you lack oral hygiene, plaque can start accumulating, and when it becomes hard, it turns into tartar. Tartar works in favor of bacteria and makes it difficult to eradicate them.
In general, there are 5 tooth decay stages. Let’s see what they are in detail.
Stage 1: Initial demineralization
The outermost layer of your teeth that is visible is called enamel. It is the hardest substance of the human body which is composed of several minerals.
When the tooth comes into contact with the acids generated by plaque bacteria, the minerals start to wear off from the enamel.
During this initial stage, you may witness a white spot on a tooth that indicates the starting point of tooth decay.
Stage 2: Enamel decay
If tooth decay continues for long and nothing is done to prevent it, the enamel will further erode. Now the white spot on the tooth may turn into a brownish shade.
As the enamel turns weaker, minor holes can form in your teeth which are called cavities. You will have to visit your dentist to get the cavities filled.
Stage 3: Dentin decay
The tooth layer under the enamel is called dentin. As compared to enamel, this layer is softer, which is why it’s more susceptible to damage from plaque acid. Tooth decay happens rapidly when it travels beyond the enamel – to dentin.
Your dentin has these tiny tubes that go towards the tooth nerves. When tooth decay damages the dentin, your teeth can become sensitive. This can be most noticeable when eating or drinking something hot or cold.
Stage 4: Pulp damage
The most hidden layer of your tooth is the pulp which consists of blood vessels and nerves. These two tooth organs keep your tooth healthy and are the ones that give your tooth sensations.
When the pulp is damaged, it can become inflamed. Because the tissues around the tooth can’t grow enough to give space to this swelling, pressure is exerted on the tooth nerves. This ultimately results in pain.
Stage 5: Abscess
This is the last of the tooth decay stages. As tooth decay reaches closer to the pulp, bacteria can interfere, resulting in infection. Higher tooth swelling can cause a bump of pus to form at the tooth’s bottom. This is called an abscess.
Tooth abscesses can give you painful sensations that can go deeper into the jaw. Some other symptoms you may experience are:
- swollen face, gums, or jaw
- inflamed lymph nodes
If the symptoms persist for long, contact the dentists at Pearl Modern. Call us today at 713.766.4389.