5 Stages of Dental Caries and How to Prevent Them From Getting Worse
Cavities are common in children and adults alike and can compromise your oral health. Treatment should begin before a painful visit to your dentist is needed. Do you know the signs and stages of dental caries or cavities?
Stage 1: White spots
The first stage of tooth decay shows itself as yellowish or chalky white spots on the surface of your tooth. This is due to the loss of calcium. At this stage, the decay is treated with the application of fluoride and minerals present in the saliva.
Stage 2: Enamel deterioration
At this stage, the enamel of your tooth tooth starts to break down. This happens underneath the surface layer. Once the enamel starts to decay, the damage is irreversible and your tooth needs to be cleaned and filled by your dentist.
Stage 3: Dentin decay
If the cavity is left untreated, the decay will progress beyond the enamel and starts to impact the dentin, or core of your tooth. This is where the pain begins, but your dentist can still restore the decayed tooth with a filling.
Stage 4: Pulp infection
When the pulp, or tooth nerve, becomes infected due to the presence of bacteria caused by the decay, pus begins to form and the blood vessels and nerves in the pulp to die.
At this stage, root canal therapy is often the only treatment.
Stage 5: Abscess formation
During this final stage, the infection reaches the root tip of the tooth and the bones surrounding the tooth can also become infected. At this stage, pain is severe, you may have visible swelling in your cheek and antibiotics may be prescribed to fight the infection. Root canal therapy or tooth removal is the treatment when infection has progressed to this stage.
Don’t let it come to this!
It is relatively easy to prevent severe tooth infection. Preventative care starts with regular brushing and flossing. Twice yearly visits to the dentist are also important as:
- Professional cleanings will enhance the work you do at home
- Your dentist or hygienist can often catch cavities at stage 1 or 2.
Never ignore pain or bleeding in your teeth or gums. It’s your body’s signal that something is wrong. Pain is your call to action!