As its name suggests, there are plenty of negative medical problems that can come with tooth decay. Between cavities, abscesses or even total tooth loss, the tooth decay process is caused by the presence of bacteria that live in dental plaque.
Tooth decay occurs in several stages, spanning from initial demineralisation to painful dental abscesses. Read on for more information about each of the stages of tooth decay, and some helpful tips on how to prevent this painful and uncomfortable process from happening to you.
Stage 1: Initial demineralisation
The outer layer of a tooth is coated in enamel. Enamel is comprised mostly of minerals, which, when exposed to acids produced by plaque bacteria, can lose its minerals and begin to decay. This stage of initial demineralisation often appears as a white spot on a tooth, and is an early sign of tooth decay.
Stage 2: Enamel decay
As the tooth decay process continues, the enamel will break down further, and the initial white spot may darken to reveal a brownish hue. At the same time, small cavities may appear in your tooth. Pay a visit to your dentist to have these cavities filled in a timely manner.
Stage 3: Dentin decay
Dentin is the tissue that sits underneath a tooth’s enamel. Dentin is soft and extremely sensitive, so by the time decay reaches the dentin layer, the overall tooth decay process speeds up. When dentin is affected by tooth decay, you may begin experiencing sensitivity on your teeth, particularly with hot or cold drinks.
Stage 4: Pulp damage
A tooth’s pulp is its innermost layer that contains blood vessels and nerves that keep your teeth healthy. Once decay reaches it, the pulp can start to swell up and place pressure on surrounding nerves. This can lead to extreme tooth pain.
Step 5: Abscess
Once tooth decay has advanced into the pulp, an infection can be caused by infiltrating bacteria. This increased inflammation can lead to a pocket forming at the base of your tooth, which is called an abscess. A tooth abscess can be extremely serious and require immediate medical treatment. It can cause severe pain into your jaw, face and neck.
How to avoid tooth decay
There are a few prevention strategies that can lessen your chance of potential tooth decay. These include regular dentist check-ups, brushing your teeth regularly and effectively, and limiting sweets or foods with a high volume of sugar. In broader terms, maintaining a healthy and structured oral hygiene schedule is vital in preventing tooth decay or other tooth damage.
Protect your teeth with Pitt Street Dental
Concerned you’re experiencing tooth decay? Here at Pitt Street Dental in Sydney, we offer a wide range of options when it comes to tooth fillings. And, once one of our highly trained dentists has completed your tooth filling, we’ll provide you with comprehensive aftercare instructions. If you’re in need of a tooth filling or repair due to tooth decay, book an appointment at Pitt Street Dental Centre today.