Were you aware that there are five stages of a cavity? And depending on when you have them taken care of, these stages must be treated very differently. Here is everything you should know about the stages of a cavity.
Stage 1: Enamel Begins Losing Calcium
This process is called demineralization of the enamel. The enamel is an extremely hard tissue, and when calcium is lost, white spots may develop on the surface of a tooth. However, sugars and acids can erode the surface and produce plaque bacteria. When a cavity is found at this earliest stage, the damage can be reversed with plaque removal and fluoride treatment, before more severe, even permanent damage has a chance to occur.
Stage 2: Enamel Begins to Decay
This process happens after bacteria invade the surface of the weakened enamel. At this stage, you may notice the white spots begin to darken and form small holes in the tooth’s surface. To fix a cavity at this stage, the dentist will remove the areas of decay with a tool, preparing your tooth for a filling made of resin, amalgam, or ceramic, depending on the location of the tooth.
Stage 3: Decay Reaches Dentin
Dentin is the soft tissue situated beneath the enamel. If decay makes it through the strong enamel, it won’t take long to have problems once it is within the dentin. It tends to progress quickly at this stage and may require much more extensive repair. It is much more sensitive to damage by acids and sugars. When caught immediately, there is still a chance for the decay to be cleaned out and filled. Many times, however, once the decay is removed, a crown will be placed over the tooth.
Stage 4: Infection of the Tooth Pulp
This is an advanced and serious state for a cavity. It is typical for this stage to cause pain, often severe. You will certainly feel sensitivity to many things, particularly cold, and you will have discomfort when you try to eat with that tooth. The only real fix for a cavity this advanced is with a root canal, in which the infected pulp is removed, and a crown is placed. In some cases, the tooth must be extracted completely.
Stage 5: Abscess of the Tooth
This is the final stage of a cavity, where the infection has moved beyond the tooth itself and has reached gums and bone in that area of the mouth. Extreme pain is common. You may have swelling and bleeding in the area, as well. Any hope to save this tooth involves a root canal, however, in many cases, the infection will require extraction and antibiotic treatment.
If you are experiencing dental concerns in Pleasant View, Utah, reach out to us at Mountain View Dental today so that we can help you regain your smile!