The Five Stages of Tooth Decay
At the family dentistry practice of Thomas G. Zarger, Jr., we believe that every beautiful smile is built upon a foundation of good oral health. This is why we offer a comprehensive range of general dentistry services designed to fulfill the unique needs of every member of your family. Dr. Zarger will provide you and your family with all of the dental education they need to take the best care possible of their teeth and gums in between their regular visits to our office. We want you to be able to have healthy smiles for a lifetime, keeping such issues as tooth decay well under control.
One of the surest ways to prevent tooth decay is to know how to identify it in its earliest stages. This way you can seek treatment before it has a chance to spread. This is why Dr. Zarger informs patients about the stages of tooth decay at his Knoxville, TN cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry practice. He will urge you and your family to make an appointment to see him as soon as you detect the first signs of tooth decay or any other problems with your teeth or gums. That way, you can maintain optimal oral health and avoid costlier and more extensive dental treatments in the future.
Be proactive when it comes to taking care of your and your family’s dental health. Schedule your initial consultations with Dr. Thomas G. Zarger, Jr. today.
What Are the Stages of Tooth Decay?
Tooth decay can be broken down into five basic stages. In its initial stages, symptoms can be difficult to recognize, which is why it is important to visit our practice at least twice a year for oral exams. Dr. Zarger is able to diagnose tooth decay even when symptoms are subtle and treat it before it does any real damage to the teeth.
The five stages of tooth decay are:
- Demineralization: During this early stage, a small portion of the protective enamel layer of tooth will become demineralized, creating a white or brown spot. If tooth decay is diagnosed at this stage, remineralization may be able to reverse the damage.
- Enamel erosion: During this stage, bacteria erode the enamel, causing the underlying layer of dentin to become exposed. Dentin contains thousands of microscopic tubules, gateways to the root canals at the centers of the teeth, where a nerve-rich substance called dental pulp resides. The tooth can still be treated at this stage, with tooth-colored fillings, inlays, onlays, or crowns, depending on the extent of the decay.
- Damage to the dentin: Once bacteria start eating away at the dentin, the pace at which damage occurs will accelerate. At this point, it may still be possible to treat the tooth with a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown, but time is running out.
- Dental pulp infection: Eventually the decay will penetrate the root canal, and the dental pulp will become infected. When this occurs, the pulp must be surgically removed in order to salvage the tooth. The root canal must then be disinfected, and the tooth must be covered with a dental crown to prevent further damage.
- Abscess formation: If root canal therapy is not performed in a timely manner and the infection has the opportunity to spread to the tip of the tooth root, an abscess will form. From there, the infection can move to the jawbone, the gums, and adjacent teeth. Widespread damage to tissues throughout the mouth becomes likely if professional treatment is not sought.
Learn More about Stages of Tooth Decay
To learn more about stages of tooth decay, please contact our cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry practice today.