At Marineland Dental Care we try to use our blog as a place to provide you with great dental information while also keeping a light-hearted attitude and approach to everything. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t take your care completely seriously. That’s what we want to talk about today: the serious effects of tooth decay.

It’s the most common dental problem in the world despite being incredibly easy to prevent and treat. Some people simply don’t think it can happen to them, and others assume that cavities aren’t that serious when the opposite is true.

We’re going to talk today about the stages of tooth decay and what can be done to treat cavities at these stages.

Stage 1: Demineralization

It’s hard to notice the decay at this point – when it does show up it’s usually just as a small discoloration, usually too faint to see! This is the stage at which your teeth start to show the first signs of enamel loss from plaque acids eating away at the important outer layer.

Good news, though – this stage happens all the time in your teeth, which is why it’s so important to practice good brushing and flossing! It’s simple to reverse the damage done to your enamel with regular fluoride treatment and regular cleanings and exams. Preventive care reverses this kind of minimal damage all the time!

Stage 2: Enamel Decay

At this stage you might notice a small, dark discoloration on the surface of your tooth. That’s because cavities start forming under the surface where bacteria can spread in a safe, secure space. As the cavity grows it will eventually break through to the surface, leaving you with a small hole in your tooth.

This is the Point Of No Return for your teeth. Once a cavity has become large enough to break the surface you will need a filling. We offer several different materials for your fillings, and recommend the invisible look of dental composite!

Stage 3: Dentin Decay

The inner layer of your tooth, called the dentin, is the next part to get infected when you have a continual cavity. If you’ve ever had a cavity before this is probably when you first noticed it – they hurt! Your dentin is softer than your enamel and contains countless thin nerves that help you “feel” your teeth. When infection hits those it sets of fireworks!

At this stage in tooth decay a filling is still a viable option, and is what we use. Your tooth is still pretty healthy despite the pain, so we want to always take care of it as fast as possible! Seeing us when the pain first starts should be your plan!

Stage 4: Pulp Infection

The innermost portion of your tooth is called the pulp. That’s where all the blood vessels, nerves, and other tissue needed to keep your teeth alive and healthy live. When a cavity gets that deep you’re in for some serious pain.

At this critical stage the only solution left is a root canal. Despite the myths surrounding this tooth-saving procedure it is essential is stopping the infection and saving your tooth! By removing infected tissue along with filling and crowning the tooth we’re able to use one last method to protect your teeth!

Stage 5: Abscessed Teeth

At this stage the pulp has spread the infection to the surrounding tissue. This leads to an abscess and possible spread of infection. Continued unchecked and abscess can actually cause death! You’ll notice swelling, a possible fever, and a lot of pain.

At this stage it is still possible to save some teeth, depending on how large the infection has become and how much healthy tooth is remaining. We’ll have to perform an immediate root canal or extraction as well as treating you with antibiotics to stop the spread of infection.

The Takeaway

Think back to that very first stage and the solution to minor demineralization: brush, floss, and use fluoride. All three steps are something you do every day and are simple, quick, and easy. With good habits you can easily stop tooth decay before it even starts, while it’s still just a scratch on the surface.

Coupled with regular visits to our office for a cleaning and exam you can be in the best of oral health and never have to worry about the advanced stages of tooth decay. Whether you’ve made oral health mistakes in the past or have always had a set of sparkling teeth we welcome you at our Kennewick dentist office!

If you’re concerned that you might be showing signs of tooth decay, don’t put off a call to Marineland Dental Care! We can help if you just call 509-591-0515 or request an appointment using our online form. We look forward to protecting your teeth for years to come!

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