When it’s time to go to bed, do you occasionally skip your oral care routine because you’re too tired? When you’re late for work, is a simple mouth rinse enough to get you out the door? Do you find yourself rushing through your oral care routine because you want to get back to your favorite TV show? Failing to keep a strict and effective oral care regimen will only increase your risk of cavities and decay, costing you a pretty penny later on restorative treatments.
Here are the five stages of tooth decay from your dentist in Waco.
Stage #1: White Spots
The earliest signs of tooth decay begin when calcium is lost and plaque begins to build up. Your teeth may start to take on white spots or streaks as bacteria continues to metabolize the sugars and starches you’ve consumed. This demineralization can be reversed, but only if you keep a strict oral care regimen using fluoride toothpaste and visit your dentist for a professional evaluation. They may recommend a fluoride varnish or scrub for additional protection.
Stage #2: Decay of Enamel
At this stage, the enamel begins breaking down and the natural remineralization process is unable to restore proper enamel and minerals. This causes a lesion to form underneath the tooth and puts its surface at risk. If enamel breaks, it’s irreversible. If your tooth cracks or shows any signs of breaking, visit your dentist right away.
Stage #3: Dentin Decay
As the decay continues developing, it will only go deeper and deeper towards the center. Enamel is very thick and designed to protect the majority of the crown, unlike the vulnerable dentin which only barely covers the pulp. You may start to notice sensitivity and even pain as bacteria travels through the dentin. Once enough of the enamel has fractured, it will collapse and form a cavity. This means a dental filling will be needed to restore the tooth.
Stage #4: The Inner Tooth
The center of the tooth, known as either the inner tooth or the pulp, is the last area decay can reach. Here, living tissue and odontoblasts are responsible for producing dentin. Dentin is meant to act as connective tissue between enamel and pulp.
If the pulp becomes infected, pus will begin to form and begin killing infected blood vessels and nerves inside the tooth. This will in turn cause a toothache and require root canal therapy to clean effectively.
Stage #5: Abscess Formations
The final and more painful stage of tooth decay is abscess formation. Once an infection spreads to the tip of the tooth’s root, which is responsible for receiving important nutrients and keeping the tooth in place, the conjoining bones will be at risk of infection. This typically results in the gums and tongue swelling. Because the decay is so deep, oral surgery will likely be needed.
The last stage your dentist in Waco didn’t go over in detail was tooth loss. Either way, this stage is inevitable unless you practice good oral care and visit him regularly. Schedule an appointment today to make sure no decay is present in your smile!
About the Author
Dr. Rick Cofer earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the Baylor School of Dentistry. He always emphasizes the importance of preventive care with patients so they don’t need invasive restorative treatments done in the first place. To learn more about his practice, contact him through his website.