The Stages of Tooth Decay and How to Prevent It?

Tooth decay is the gradual deterioration of the tooth that results in cavities, dental abscesses, and ultimately loss of the infected tooth. The build-up of dental plaque primarily causes tooth decay. Certain bacteria present in plaque convert sugar, which is found in food, into acids. In case dental plaque is left unchecked, the bacterial acids can rot the teeth. Therefore, it is essential to practice good dental hygiene and use dental crowns.

Stages of Tooth Decay

There are various stages of tooth decay. The formation of plaque is a crucial stage in the process of tooth decay. Plaque is easily recognizable as a sticky, colorless coating that covers the tooth’s surface. Plaque consists of food remnants, bacteria, and saliva.

If you do not brush your teeth regularly, it can lead to the formation of plaque. Plaque, if left unattended, can harden gradually and form yellow-colored deposits called tartar. The formation of tartar helps protect bacteria in the mouth. It makes it increasingly difficult to eradicate the bacteria.

Let us explore the five different stages of tooth decay.

Stage 1: Initial Demineralization of Enamel

A kind of tissue — enamel makes up the outer layer of the teeth. As a tooth gets exposed to bacterial acids and plaque, the teeth’ enamel coating begins to weaken. A visible sign of enamel deterioration in the presence of white spot-on teeth. It signifies the onset of tooth decay.

Stage 2: Decay of Enamel

In case tooth decay is ignored, the enamel will deteriorate further. It is symbolized by a white spot on the tooth turning to a dark brown color. The weakening of enamel causes the formation of holes in the teeth. These are cavities. To repair cavities, your dentist will have to give you a filling.

Stage 3: Decay of Dentin

Under the enamel coating on your teeth, there lies a layer of tissue called dentin. The dentin is a softer layer in comparison to the enamel. It makes it much more susceptible to deterioration from exposure to acid. If the tooth is allowed to decay to a stage where the damage reaches the dentin, the process of tooth decay accelerates. Dentin also comprises tubes that connect to the nerves of the teeth.

Therefore, the deterioration of the dentin layer can cause one to experience sensitivity in the teeth. If you feel a sensation of sudden pain in your teeth while consuming hot or cold food or drink, you will realize that the dentin layer in your teeth significantly deteriorates.

Stage 4: Damage to Pulp Layer

The innermost layer of the tooth is the pulp. It is a vital layer that consists of blood vessels and nerves that keep the teeth healthy. If the pulp layer is damaged, it can cause inflammation and swelling. This swelling can exert pressure on the nerves, which can cause a person to experience pain.

Stage 5: Abscess

It is an advanced stage of tooth decay. When the pulp layer begins to rot and deteriorate, it leads to the invasion of bacteria, which results in infection of the tooth. Inflammation of a tooth can result in the formation of a pus pocket at the tooth’s base. It is known as an abscess.

An abscess in the tooth is extremely painful, and this pain may stent to the jaw. There are a few noticeable symptoms that could indicate the formation of an abscess in the tooth. They are: swelling of lymph nodes in the neck, swollen gums, jaw, face, and the onset of fever.

Tooth Decay in Children

Children are also susceptible to tooth decay. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has listed tooth decay among the most common and chronic childhood conditions across the United States of America.  Young children are more likely to suffer from tooth decay. A child’s temporary teeth have a thinner enamel layer, making them increasingly sensitive compared to the enamel in adult teeth.

To prevent tooth decay in children, parents must limit a child’s consumption of food or high sugar drinks and use dental crowns.

Although a child’s teeth are temporary, it is essential to encourage children to practice good dental hygiene and look after their teeth. A child’s baby teeth are the placeholders of permanent teeth. If the temporary teeth are allowed to decay, it may hinder the development of permanent teeth.

Treating Tooth Decay

The method of treating tooth decay is primarily dependent on the stage of deterioration. Treatment options vary according to the severity of decay found in the tooth.

Initial Demineralization

As this is the earliest stage of tooth decay, the damage is mostly reversible through fluoride treatments. Your dentist can administer these treatments. Fluoride treatments involve the application of varnish or gel on the teeth. Fluoride makes the enamel stronger and increases its resistance to acids from bacteria in plaque.

Enamel Decay

At this stage of tooth decay, cavities are formed. A dentist can get rid of cavities in teeth with fillings. To give you a filling, the dentist will first clean up any visible decay in the tooth, fill the cavity with resin, dental amalgam, or ceramic.

Dentin Decay

If dentin decay is treated early, it can be cleaned up with a filling. If the decay is severe, the dentist may need to place a crown on the infected tooth.

Pulp Damage

To treat damage to the pulp layer, a dentist will need to perform a root canal operation. The root canal procedure involves the removal of the deteriorated pulp. After the process, the cavity is filled and crowned.


In the event of an abscess forming in the tooth, a root canal will be needed to remove the infection. If the abscess is severe, the infected tooth may be extracted. Alternatively, a spot could also be treated with antibiotics that kill the bacteria.

Preventing Tooth Decay

Maintaining good dental hygiene and using dental crowns are paramount in avoiding tooth decay.

Visit the dentist for routine checkups: Regular visits to the dentist can aid in the early detection and treatment of tooth decay. Also, try to visit Dental crowns Roswell GA.

Brush teeth at regular intervals: It is good practice to brush your teeth two times a day and after a meal.

Avoid sweets in excess: Try not to eat food or consume beverages that have high sugar content. Some items to limit in your diet are cookies, aerated drinks, and chocolates.

The Last Word

Tooth decay can be a painful experience. Human teeth are the only part of the body that cannot repair themselves. Therefore, it is necessary to take proper care of the teeth. People should regularly visit dentists and apply dental crowns in Roswell, GA. If you are looking for dental crowns, feel free to get in touch with TruCare dentistry.