Health GuideWomens Health

Stages of Tooth Decay and How to Overcome Them


Cavity is permanently damaged areas on the hard surface of teeth that turn into small holes or openings.  Cavities, also known as tooth decay is caused by a combination of factors, including bacteria in the mouth, frequent eating, drinking soft drinks, and poor brushing.

Five Stages of Tooth Decay

Over time, tooth decay develops in five stages.  Here’s a look at each one.

·         Demineralization

In the first stage of tooth decay, the outer layer of the tooth, the enamel, begins to weaken due to the presence of a layer of plaque. Enamel is the hardest substance in your body, harder than your bones.  However, the acid produced by the bacteria can demineralize and weaken enamel. When demineralization occurs, white spots begin to appear on the teeth.  This is where the plaque begins to spread to tooth enamel. Frequent use of fluoride mouthwashes or receiving fluoride treatment from a dentist can reverse damage to the gums.

·         Enamel Decay

If you allow your enamel to continue to decompose, the white spots will turn brown.  You are now in the second stage of tooth decay, where the enamel begins to decay and holes begin to form. You will need dental fillings to prevent further decay.  The dentist will remove the damaged parts of the tooth and fill the cavity with gold, silver or ceramic.

·         Dentine Decay

 If you do not go to the dentist, tooth decay will accelerate from here.  You will find that you are in the third stage of tooth decay when you start to feel very sensitive to your teeth when consuming hot or cold drinks, especially sweets. If tooth decay is detected early, it can be corrected with fillers.  If there is significant damage, your dentist will remove the damaged portion of your tooth and place a crown over the rest of the tooth structure.

·         Damaged Pulp

Pulp is the layer beneath the dentin.  It is the lower part of the tooth where the blood vessels are located, the nerve that protects and ensures the sensitivity of the tooth.

·         Dental Abscess

In this final stage of tooth decay, bacteria enter the decaying pulp and usually lead to infection.  Eventually, the lower part of your tooth may open up, causing severe pain that may spread to the rest of the mouth, gums, face, and jaw. If this is not done through the root canal, the tooth must be removed so that the infection does not spread to the jaw or other parts of the head.  You may need to take antibiotics to kill the bacteria. You can use partial dentures for back teeth if back teeth is removed.

Make sure to practice good oral hygiene to prevent such problems. Some foods can cause tooth decay.  The more these foods stick to the surface of your teeth, the more acid your mouth will become and cause cavities.  When this happens, tooth decay begins to damage the enamel as it goes through five different stages as mentioned above.

the authorEllenorBevan