Cavities don’t form all at once. In fact, they develop in different stages, progressing from minor to major over time. The team here at Aqua Springs Dental is careful to diagnose and pinpoint the severity of a patient’s tooth decay, allowing us to use the proper restorative dentistry treatment to remedy the problem.
You may have heard that once tooth enamel is eroded, it’s gone forever. This is not entirely true. In the earliest stage of enamel erosion, a cavity can be reversed. So, here are the 5 stages of a cavity.
- White Spots – In stage one, the tooth begins to show signs of strain from the attack of sugars and acids, and white spots will begin to materialize just below the surface of the enamel. These chalky white spots are representative of the demineralization of the tooth and can be easy to miss. At this stage, it’s possible to halt a cavity before it needs a filling. Dental hygiene can stop erosion. Fluoride can remineralize the enamel.
- Enamel Decay – Enamel decay occurs when the initial lesion goes unaddressed. This is a full-blown cavity, with part of the enamel layer of the tooth eaten away. Even a minor cavity can be severe, mainly if it’s untreated and can develop further. Treating enamel decay is relatively simple. The most common option for treatment is the use of a traditional dental filling. The filling will restore the damaged portion of the tooth, preventing the cavity from developing further and avoiding additional structural damage in the process.
- Dentin Decay – If a cavity were to progress beyond stage two without you knowing, you’d tend to become aware of it when it started to hit stage III because it would probably start to cause some pain. At this level, the cavity begins to eat away at the second level of tooth material that lies beneath the enamel: the dentin. A filling can still be used to stop the onslaught of bacteria assaulting the tooth to prevent the cavity from reaching the tooth’s most critical component: the pulp.
- Decay Hits the Pulp – Inside of every tooth is soft tissue known as dental pulp. This pulp comprises blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue that was necessary for the initial formation of a tooth. If oral bacteria breach the enamel and dentin and access the dental pulp, this leads to a root canal infection. This is when our doctors at Aqua Springs Dental will take x-rays, do some tests, then do a root canal therapy or use medicines to calm down the tooth first.
- Abscess Distress – In the fifth and final stage of a cavity, the infection has reached the tip of the root and exited the tip of the tooth’s structure. This, in turn, infects the surrounding tissues and possibly the bone structure. The swelling would be commonplace and severe pain. It’s also hazardous for anyone’s health. This is a severe infection that can spread to other parts of the body. Abscesses originating in a tooth can be fatal. When an abscess forms in the mouth, it’s essential that it be drained professionally. Antibiotics and antiseptic medications are expected to help get the bacteria under control.
As you can see, cavities don’t happen overnight. Regular visits can stall and reverse the progression of these dastardly little devils in the early stages, so it does pay to visit us at Aqua Springs Dental, your top dentists in San Marcos, Texas.