Tooth decay is an ongoing process that does not immediately result in cavities if caught soon enough. The easiest way to address the beginning of tooth decay is by brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing once a day, along with regular cleanings and checkups at our Brampton dental clinic. This preventative care stops the decay and helps protect the teeth from cavities.
If you or your child has poor brushing and flossing habits and neglect regular dental visits, the decay process can progress through five different stages, as follows:
Stage 1 – The tooth starts to decay underneath the enamel layer of the tooth. It may be hard to notice if it is happening on the rear teeth. As the tooth decays, it demineralizes and starts to form small white spots. At this stage, the decay can be stopped and repaired by your dentist.
Stage 2 – If the decay continues to progress, it will now start to attack the enamel, which is the protective coating on the teeth. The decay occurs from the inside and moves outwards until it destroys the enamel. Once decay reaches this stage, it can still be corrected by having it removed and getting the tooth filled.
Stage 3 – If the decay was not previously detected, it will now start to eat away at the tooth’s dentin, which is the layer directly beneath the enamel. You or your child may notice some minor tooth pain or discomfort. If the decay is detected at this stage by a visit to your dentist, it can still be stopped and requires a filling.
Stage 4 – Once the decay reaches this stage, it will start to attack the interior layer of the tooth – the pulp. This is when people typically start to complain of a toothache. The level of pain can vary from minor to severe. A root canal is a dental procedure used to remove and stop the tooth decay.
Stage 5 – If for some reason, there was little or infrequent pain or if you decided to live with it, the decay will make its way down to the root of the tooth and start to infect the gum tissue and surrounding teeth. This stage is commonly referred to as an abscessed tooth and should not be ignored. In order to stop the decay and infection from spreading further, your dentist will determine if it is still possible to save the tooth. If it is, then a root canal will be performed. Otherwise, the tooth will need to be extracted and replaced with an artificial tooth.
As you can see, the process of dental decay and the development of cavities is not something that just occurs overnight. This is why it is important to visit the dentist at regular intervals. If you or your child is experiencing any level of tooth pain or discomfort, or it has been more than six months since your last dental cleaning, contact Kennedy Square Dental at (905) 789-7339 to schedule an appointment today!