As one of the most common causes of pain and the first sign of trouble, tooth decay is something that your Krengel Dentist is always watching for and working with you to eliminate. Decay begins when a tooth enamel starts to break down, causing dents or pockets on the surface of the tooth due to accumulated bacteria and plaque. While some forms of decay can be treated, the longer the decay develops, the more detrimental it can be to your dental hygiene. Understanding the stages of decay helps to better understand what decay does to your teeth over time. Here we will take a look at the five stages and give you an idea of what to look for to treat decay early on.
Stage One: White Spots
The first sign of tooth enamel being destructed are those white, visible spots on the surface of our teeth. These spots appear when acids and sugars take to your enamel. As with all things health related, the sooner you intervene, the better. If you see a white spot, contact our Krengel Dental team and we can consult you on how to reverse the process. Unless there are cavities, it likely that this stage of decay can be attended to by adjusting your at-home oral hygiene routine.
Stage Two: Decay In the Enamel
In stage two, the bacteria has passed through the surface layer of enamel and the tooth may start to erode. Once the tooth erodes, the decay will most likely break through the enamel, causing the formation of a cavity. You may have guessed it- this means we need to place a filling in order to prevent further damage.
Stage Three: Decay in the Dentin
By stage three, acids have dissolved to where the decay has reached the dentin, the part of the tooth between the surface enamel and the pulp. At this stage, you may notice sharp pain due to a loss of minerals which weakens the tooth and causes sensitivity. We notice that our patients tend to notice the decay at this stage due to the physical pain. A filling will still be able to attend to the damage, however the more decay, the bigger the filling.
Stage Four: Decay in the Pulp
Once decay reaches stage four, the pulp of the tooth, which is where the nerve endings are, start to feel significantly more painful. Patients often report a constant toothache at this stage. The bacteria can lead to nerve endings and blood vessels being damaged and killed, which may ultimately require a root canal for treatment.
Unfortunately, the final stage of decay is infection in the tooth and its structure. You may notice swelling, constant bad breath and pain at this stage and a root canal or additional oral surgery may be necessary. No matter what, intervention from a professional is necessary at this stage.
The bad news is that tooth decay can cause a lot of damage, however the great news is that tooth decay is preventable AND reversible when attended to in the early stages. Stick with us and your Krengel Dental team will set you up for success. Have any questions or due for your check up? Give us a ring at 952-888-1311 and we will take good care of you.