Tooth Decay Stages and Warning Signs

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"Oh man, this tooth is killing me!" Oral hygiene is tough primarily because the "bad effects" of not doing so take longer to set in, but when it does set in the distress, pain and anxiety bring a complete unfocused life event. Personal and professional relationships can even suffer because the tooth decay becomes worse and many people struggle to enjoy things in life.

Tooth decay has four stages, and with these stages warning, signs are evident.

Stage One: The Primary Lesion

With the first stage of tooth decay the initial lesion forms on a tooth. The lesion is a white or brownish discoloration on the surface of the tooth. Lesions do not show up as a cavity on x-rays, it is the demineralization at the enamel level. Caught at this stage, thankfully the tooth decay can be reversed, and damage undone. Fluoride treatment might be recommended by the dentist, sealants and or options to promote remineralization. Brushing and flossing are also encouraged by the dentist.

Stage Two: Tooth Enamel Decay

In this stage, the enamel has begun to break down. A tooth is one of the most durable substances in the body, but it can't withstand the effects of tooth decay. With breached enamel, tooth sensitivity is experienced, especially with food or beverages that are cold/hot. A dental filling is an ideal treatment for decayed tooth enamel dental restoration; this allows patients to chew and bite down without discomfort.

Stage Three: Decay of Dentin

Dentin is a porous substance that is beneath the tooth enamel. Tooth decay moves quickly through the dentin because of its porous nature. At this stage, the tooth sensitivity heightens. A simple chew or bite can trigger a painful emotion.

The perfect treatment for dentin decay is using a more substantial dental restoration, such as onlays, inlays or crowns. These restorations help rebuild portions of damaged or decayed teeth.

Stage Four: Infection of the Dental Pulp

Dental pulp is inside every tooth chamber. The pulp is essential for the tooth's initial formation and maturation. When bacteria enter the dental pulp, an infection occurs. This bacterium is also known as a root canal infection. Endodontic therapy is necessary to treat a root canal infection. The root canal process involves the removal of the diseased dental pulp; the chamber area sterilized, the tooth filled with an inert material and a capping treatment performed on the tooth, a dental crown.

Stage Five: An Abscess Formation

An untreated root canal infection leads to the formation of an abscess. Abscess' is an accumulation of debris and pus. When an abscess ruptures, severe consequences of oral health are at risk. Treating an abscess must be drained professionally to ensure safety and antibiotic is common to help eliminate any bacteria that may be remaining.

Do you have tooth decay symptoms? Reach out to a dentist and get an evaluation quick before it reaches into a later stage and becomes more serious.

Request a dental appointment here: or call You Smile Dental at (408) 361-8133 for an appointment in our Santa Clara dental office.

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