Did you know that there is a process that allows a cavity to develop in your tooth? What are the stages of tooth decay? We will try to answer this to help you become more aware of developing cavities, so that you may help fight them before they become painful emergencies. Cavities and dental abscesses may happen as well as tooth loss.
Good hygiene and regular visits to our downtown dental clinic in Ottawa may also help. Understanding the stages of tooth decay may be important as well.
What Are the Stages of Tooth Decay?
Decay happens as a process. Caused by plaque, a substance made from food particles, bacteria and saliva, decay may happen in plaque when it builds up from a lack of cleaning. Over time, it hardens to forms tartar. The following are the stages that a cavity may take:
- First demineralisation
- Enamel decay
- Dentin decay
- Pulp damage
From the first buildup of tartar and demineralisation to a painful abscess, both adults and children can address tooth decay before it becomes painful.
Loss of Minerals
Acids may cause the loss of minerals on this outer layer of the teeth. Enamel is the hardest tissue within the body. The loss of minerals may cause a white spot to appear on the tooth. This is the first sign of decay.
Decay of Enamel
Enamel breaks down further. The spot, which was initially white, becomes more of a brownish colour. A small hole in the tooth begins to form. At this point, it is the beginning of a cavity, also called a dental carie.
The coating of the teeth, the enamel, made of calcium and phosphate, has been eroded. When this happens, you may want to have the cavity filled by our holistic dentist.
Decay of Dentin
Dentin lies underneath the enamel; it is somewhat softer than enamel, which makes it more prone to damage. Acid may affect it and increase the decay of the tooth after it has reached the dentin layer.
This part of the tooth also contains tubes that lead to nerves. When affected, they may cause what you perceive as sensitivity, especially when drinking hot or cold drinks.
Damage to Pulp
The inner layer of the tooth is the pulp. Within this layer are the blood vessels and nerves that are necessary to the health of the tooth. The nerves are what provide a sensation that may be felt in the tooth.
Pulp that is irritated may swell and cause pressure to the surrounding teeth. The swelling is not easily accommodated by the surrounding teeth; this pressure is what may lead to pain.
As bacteria invade the pulp of the tooth, infection occurs, causing the development of inflammation and pus at the bottom of the tooth. The result is an abscess. Pain can then be felt; it is severe.
Pain from an abscess of a tooth may be felt into the jaw. The gums may swell and there may be pain in the face as well as the presence of a fever or lymph nodes that are swollen.
Prompt treatment is required for an abscess, as the infection may spread to the bones of the jaw, head or neck. Removal of the tooth is one of the treatments.
What Are Some Treatments Available?
At each stage of a cavity, there is a treatment that is available. They include the following treatments, done at home and in the dentist’s office.
Loss of Minerals – Since this is the earliest stage of decay, it may be treated by the tap water in your community, which may have fluoride added. Toothpaste may also carry fluoride. Toothpaste with Neem oil or Coconut oil, natural alternatives, may also be used.
Decay of Enamel – This is the stage at which you should visit the dentist to have the cavity filled. The tooth will first be cleaned of decay, and a filling of resin or ceramic will be used. It will match the surrounding area of the tooth.
Decay of Dentin – This softer portion of the tooth is affected more by decay when it has reached it. Instead of a filling, a crown may be the call. The area of decay will be removed, and the crown is then placed on the tooth. There may also be some removal of healthy tissue to ensure that the crown will fit well.
Damage to Pulp – This is the stage at which a root canal may necessary. The damaged pulp is removed, and a crown is placed on the tooth.
Abscess – The dentist will most likely perform a root canal. This is to remove the infection and seal the tooth. On the other hand, they may remove the tooth that is affected and prescribe antibiotics for the infection. This should kill the remaining bacteria.
Some Ways to Prevent Cavities From Forming
Cavities are among the most common health problems in the world. You can do something about them, however. You and your children can follow some steps that have proven to be helpful in avoiding tooth decay.
Good oral hygiene is the first step in preventing cavities. Brushing twice a day and after meals is the recommendation as well as seeing the dentist regularly. You may not feel the first symptoms of decay, but they can be identified and addressed in the dental office. Routine cleanings are also recommended.
Limiting sweets with a high sugar content, such as soft drinks, will help. Candies and cookies should also be avoided. Snacking between meals can give the bacteria a place to grow, with sugars being converted into acids.
Eating tooth-healthy foods, such as vegetables and fresh fruits, will increase saliva flow. Unsweetened drinks will help wash away food particles. If you eat the type of foods that get stuck in your teeth, brush soon afterwards.
There are more things to do. Discussing it with our holistic dental team is a smart move.
At Pearlee Dental Clinic, we can address your dental emergency in Ottawa; however, we don’t want you to wait until you are in pain. A routine exam may spot any cavities in the early stages. We are located at 2948 Baseline Road in a central location. Contact us soon to make an appointment and fight cavities before they win.