The Stages of Tooth Decay: What They Look Like?

In this article we will discuss about different stages of tooth decay.

Dr. Kartik Poonja Created on 21th Mar, 21

Many people suffer from tooth decay in Navi Mumbai. You might be suffering from tooth decay as well. Did you know that tooth decay happens in many stages? This article will explore each of the stages, discuss how tooth decay gets treated, and provide you with tips on stopping it from occurring.


Let us begin with what tooth decay is.


What is tooth decay?


Tooth decay damages your teeth, potentially leading to dental abscesses, cavities, or even tooth loss. The activity of some bacteria that live in dental plaque causes tooth decay. It is the reason why good oral hygiene is an important part of stopping tooth decay.


Now let us understand what the different stages of tooth decay are.


Stages of tooth decay


As per our dentist in Navi Mumbai, dental plaque plays an essential role in tooth decay. Plaque is a colorless, sticky film covering your teeth' surfaces. It is full of food particles, bacteria, and saliva.


If your teeth are not cleaned every day, plaque can start to grow. It can also become hard as time passes, forming something known as tartar. The presence of tartar can further protect bacteria, making them more challenging to remove.


Generally, tooth decay has five stages. We have mentioned each stage in detail below.


Stage 1: Initial demineralization


Your teeth' outer area is composed of a form of tissue known as enamel. Enamel is the hardest tissue in your body and is created from minerals.


However, when the tooth is exposed to the plaque bacteria's acids, the enamel starts to lose these minerals.

When this happens, you will find a white spot on one of your teeth. This site of mineral loss is the first symptom of tooth decay.


Stage 2: Enamel decay


If the process of tooth decay continues, the enamel will break down more. You may find that the white spot on a tooth gets a brownish color.


As your enamel weakens, small holes in your teeth, known as cavities or dental caries, occur. You will have to visit the dentist in Navi Mumbai to fill these cavities.


Stage 3: Dentin decay


The tissue called dentin lies under the enamel. It is softer than the enamel making it more sensitive to the acid's damage. Due to this, tooth decay proceeds at a faster rate when it approaches the dentin.


Dentin also has tubes that connect to the nerves of your tooth. Due to this, when tooth decay affects dentin, you may start experiencing sensitivity. You may find this especially when you eat cold or hot foods or drinks.


Stage 4: Pulp damage


The pulp is your tooth's innermost layer. It has the nerves and blood vessels that keep the tooth healthy. The nerves in the pulp also give sensation to your tooth.


When damage to the pulp occurs, it has irritation and begins to swell. As the surrounding tissues in the tooth cannot expand to accommodate this swelling, the pressure is placed on the nerves. This can lead to pain.


Stage 5: Abscess


As tooth decay grows into the pulp, bacteria invade and cause infection. Raised inflammation in your tooth can progress to a pocket of pus-forming at the bottom of your tooth, known as an abscess.


Tooth abscesses can bring severe pain that may radiate into the jaw. Other signs may involve swelling of the gums, face or fever, jaw, and swollen lymph nodes in your neck.


A tooth abscess needs prompt treatment, as the infection can expand into your jawbones and other areas of your neck and head. In few cases, treatment may include removing the affected tooth.


Treatments for different stages of tooth decay


Let us have a look at the various treatment choices depending on the progression of tooth decay.

  • Initial demineralization - This earliest tooth decay stage can actually get reversed before permanent damage happens. Treating the teeth with fluoride can help achieve it.
  • Enamel decay - When the tooth's enamel is decayed, cavities are usually present. Your dentist will use fillings to treat these cavities.
  • Dentin decay - As dentin is softer than the enamel, decay moves faster when it approaches this stage. If identified early, dentin decay may get treated with a filling. In advanced cases, you might require a dental crown on the damaged teeth.
  • Pulp damage - Once tooth decay has approached the pulp, you will usually need a root canal. In a root canal, the damaged pulp gets taken out. Then the tooth cavity gets cleaned and filled in. A crown is placed over the affected tooth.
  • Abscess - If an abscess has occurred in your tooth, your dentist will likely do a root canal to take out the infection and seal the tooth. In severe cases, you may have to take the affected tooth out completely.

If tooth decay is in its initial stages, you may not have any symptoms. It is the reason why regular visits to your dental clinic in Navi Mumbai are essential. Your dentist can help identify and address the initial stages of tooth decay before they become worse.