There are five stages of tooth decay. We’ve outlined the common symptoms at each stage so you can look out for early signs to better reverse early decay for healthier, stronger teeth:
- Demineralization: The initial stage of tooth decay comes in the form of white or brown spots on the surface of the tooth. This occurs when enamel is weakened and is at risk of being stripped away. Reversing decay at this stage is possible with enamel-fortifying, remineralization toothpaste. Try Crest Gum & Enamel Repair Toothpaste for safe and effective results.
- Enamel Decay: During the second stage of decay, enamel continues to be eaten away by bacteria to expose the dentin layer underneath. Since discoloration and sensitivity are common at this time, a sensitivity toothpaste can help lessen the pain. However, proper treatment from your dental professional is the only way to ensure the decay doesn’t progress to the next stage. Treatments include fillings, crowns, and inlays, depending on the severity and location of the issue.
- Dentin Decay: Softer than enamel, dentin, the layer right underneath enamel, is more vulnerable and decays at a faster pace than its protective outer layer did, forming into a cavity. As bacteria eats away at the dentin of the tooth, professional treatments are the only option. These include fillings, inlays, and crowns. However, because of how quickly the decay occurs at this stage, time is limited and a more serious treatment may become necessary to stop the decay.
- Infection: If decay progresses further, then the layer underneath the dentin, known as dental pulp, becomes infected. Since the pulp is rich in nerves, this stage is often accompanied by severe toothache. Root canals are often required to remove the infection prior to a crown being placed over the affected tooth to prevent further decay.
- Abscess Formation:Once tooth decay has reached its fifth and final stage, the infection moves throughout the jawbone and even other teeth to form an abscess, which is a pocket of pus. A root canal is still a viable option if the infection hasn’t spread far. However, in some cases, tooth extraction is required. If left untreated, the tooth will ultimately die.
The best course of action is to treat decay in its early stages, or to prevent decay from occurring at all.
- Brush twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste to remove decay-causing bacteria from your teeth and gums
- Switch to an electric toothbrush for a more comprehensive clean
- Floss at least once a day to clean the areas between the teeth and along the gum line
- Rinse with an anti-cavity mouthwash after meals
- Visit your dentist or dental hygienist twice a year for checkups and professional cleanings
Following a thorough oral care routine is crucial in evading tooth decay. Simultaneously, avoid starchy/sugary foods and beverages whenever you can. If tooth decay is left untreated, it will lead to tooth loss and other health complications, so be sure to reverse decay as soon as possible.
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