Treating an early stage of tooth decay is possible by cleaning the tooth in a detailed manner and filling the cavities, or decayed holes in the tooth. However, it is important to learn the signs to prevent further decay. Considering most Americans have some form of tooth decay, a proper understanding of this dental issue is smart. With this guide and your dentist's help, you will learn the signs and treatment options for the 5 stages of tooth decay.
In the initial stage of decay, white spots will appear on the tooth enamel. These spots occur as the plaque sits on the teeth for a period of time, allowing acids to demineralize the surface enamel. In most cases, the white spots form near the gum line, since this space is more difficult to brush.
Removing the white spots and preventing further decay is possible with a detailed cleaning. An application of fluoride will also be recommended to restore the tooth enamel.
In stage 2, the enamel will experience a more involved erosion, reducing the protective layer over your teeth. The loss of enamel will make the teeth more sensitive, causing you a good amount of discomfort.
Filling the cavities will be essential in addition to fluoride applications to the enamel. This will protect the interior of the tooth.
Pain is the most common signs of stage 3 tooth decay because the cavities have started eating through the actual tooth.
Filling the cavities with dental cement is imperative to not only prevent decay, but to also prevent bacteria from building up and causing an infection inside the tooth.
Stage 4 decay is more serious, since the cavity has reached the tooth pulp. This results in severe pain that can be felt through the entire mouth.
Treating stage 4 requires a great deal more dental work. A root canal, which cleans out infected pulp from the tooth, is the only way to save the tooth. If a root canal is not possible, a complete removal of the tooth, known as an extraction, will be necessary to stop the tooth decay from spreading to other teeth.
Without intervention, an abscess will form in the decaying tooth. This infection not only affects the actual tooth, pulp, and roots, but it also spreads into surrounding gum tissue. Severe abscesses may infect the actual jaw bone, as well.
Throbbing pain, which is felt in the teeth, gums, jaw, and head is common with an abscess. You may also develop a fever due to the infection.
A root canal may be able to save the tooth, but your dentist may suggest an extraction to stop the spreading of the infection.
If you are experiencing one or more of these stages of decay, talking with your dentist today is important. Efficient and effective intervention may be able to restore your smile back to a healthy state.