Tooth decay generally develops when the enamel that coats your tooth begins to erode. As the enamel erodes, the tooth becomes less protected over time. This can lead to tooth pain, and you can even lose the decayed tooth if things get bad enough.
Fortunately, tooth decay is both treatable and preventable with a healthy oral hygiene program that includes teeth cleaning at Lovett Dental Corpus Christi.
How Does Tooth Decay Develop?
Tooth decay generally occurs in six distinct stages. Teeth in the first few stages are generally easier to treat, so it’s important to look for the early signs of decay. If you or somebody you know is currently suffering from tooth pain, then please feel free to reach out to Lovett Dental Corpus Christi and have us take a look.
The First Stage: White Spots Around the Surface
During the initial stage of tooth decay, milky white dots begin to appear on the tooth’s surface. These spots are caused by a calcium deficiency in the tooth that develops as plaque begins to aggregate. This plaque attracts larger and larger amounts of bacteria, and this bacteria starts to feed on sugars that are in the foods you eat. This is how sugar promotes tooth decay. It’s often possible to reverse this level of decay, and this is why regular general dentistry checkups are important.
The Second Stage: Eroding Enamel
As tooth decay progresses, the enamel that coats the teeth starts breaking down. When the enamel breaks down, your teeth start losing minerals. This produces a lesion inside of the tooth, and the surface of the tooth can actually break if this gets bad enough. It’s not possible to reverse a broken tooth, so you need to make sure to seek immediate help if you think any of your teeth are at this stage of decay. But one way to strengthen your teeth is through fluoride treatments.
The Third Stage: Dentin Starts to Decay
If the second stage of tooth decay isn’t treated, then the bacteria inside of the plaque will continue to eat away towards the dentin that protects your teeth. If the bacteria reaches the dentin, then the decay can cause intense pain and sharp toothaches that do not subside. You will usually need to get a dental filling inserted to restore a tooth with damaged dentin.
The Fourth Stage: Decay Reaches the Center of the Tooth
In a normal tooth, the center of the tooth produces healthy connective tissue to provide stability. If decay reaches far enough into the tooth, however, then it begins to eat away at the tissue inside of the center. Nerves and blood vessels inside of the tooth begin to die, and this can produce extreme pain. If the center of the tooth is infected, then the best option is usually a root canal or a similar procedure.
The Fifth Stage: Abscesses Form on the Root
This is the final stage before the tooth needs to be removed for good. If the decay progresses past the center of the tooth, then the bacteria will reach the nerve roots near the tip. The decay can spread to nearby bones, and this bacteria can seriously harm your gums. The fifth stage of tooth decay is usually the most painful. Infections that have gone this far can often lead to other conditions.
The Sixth and Final Stage: The Tooth Must Be Removed
At this point in the process, the only option is to remove the tooth. Even though extracting a tooth can help get rid of the damage in that specific area, infections tend to spread. In summary, it’s much easier to prevent tooth decay from happening in the first place.
Help for Tooth Decay at Lovett Dental Corpus Christ
If you have been experiencing tooth pain or you’re sure that you have some decay, then we can help. Explore your options and find a treatment program that works for you. Our friendly staff at Lovett Dental Corpus Christi is always ready to help, so give us a call today at 361.256.7896.