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Dentistry Memphis

The Five Stages of Tooth Decay

The stages of tooth decayWhen patients come to our Memphis restorative dentistry practice, we make sure to do a thorough examination of their dental health. Early detection of tooth decay and gum disease can make a major difference when it comes to overall patient wellness. At the first sign of a cavity, for instance, we can act to reverse the damage.

Let's take a moment to look at the five different stages of tooth decay. We can then go over different treatment options for each stage of tooth decay.

Stage One: The Initial Lesion

The first stage of tooth decay involves the formation of the initial lesion on a tooth. This is usually involves brown or white discoloration, which means that demineralization has occurred at a microscopic level. The tooth structure is still hard, and this lesion does not show up as tooth decay in dental x-rays.

Stage Two: Enamel Decay

If the initial lesion isn't addressed, the tooth structure will break down further, resulting in the decay of the tooth enamel. This is tooth decay. The cavity is now visible using a dental x-ray and the underlying dentin layer of the tooth is exposed. The cavity may cause patients to experience tooth sensitivity from consuming foods and beverages that are hot or cold in temperature.

Stage Three: Dentin Decay

If the cavity goes untreated after the decay of the tooth enamel, the decay can spread to the dentin of the tooth. Dentin is a porous substance that's not as durable as enamel. Given this, decay can spread rapidly through the dentin. Patients experiencing dentin decay will often experience major issues with tooth sensitivity at this stage of tooth decay.

Stage Four: Dental Pulp Problems

Every tooth has an internal chamber filled with dental pulp. This dental pulp consists of nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue, which was all essential for the initial formation and maturation of the tooth. Once the bacteria has breached the dentin layer of the tooth, it reaches the dental pulp. This causes a root canal infection, which can be very uncomfortable.

Stage Five: Abscess Formation

It is possible for the root canal infection to spread beyond the dental pulp. When this happens, the surrounding tissues are affected, such as the gum tissue and the jawbone. Major problems with inflammation and swelling are common in this most severe stage of tooth decay.

Treatments for Tooth Decay

There are different treatments available for tooth decay at various stages of development:

  • Stage One Tooth Decay Treatments - The initial lesion caused by tooth decay can be reversed and addressed through proper oral hygiene, fluoride treatments, the use of dental sealants, and other solutions. The ideal means of remineralization and restoration can be discussed

  • Stage Two and Three Tooth Decay Treatments - For the treatment of enamel and dentin decay, the best option for treatment is the use of dental restorations. This may mean a dental filling, an inlay, an onlay, or a dental crown. The extent of the tooth decay will determine the ideal restoration to use.

  • Stage Four Tooth Decay Treatments - When the pulp inside of a tooth has been affected, the ideal treatment is root canal therapy. This removes the diseased dental pulp from inside of a tooth.

  • Stage Five Tooth Decay Treatments - It might be too late to perform a root canal at this late stage of tooth decay. Tooth extraction could be your only solution to prevent more serious dental health problems.

Contact Southwind Dental Care

For more information about treating tooth decay and enhancing the overall health and beauty of your smile, be sure to contact our cosmetic and restorative dentistry center today. The team here at Southwind Dental Care will work with you to enhance your dental health and wellness.

Tagged In: Tooth Decay, Restorative Dentistry, Restorative Dentistry

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I have been to several dentists in the Memphis Area and I have finally found THE ONE!! Dr. Messer is the best dentist I have ever been to. I have complete confidence in any procedure that he performs and I can't imagine ever going to any other dentist.

-Meredith Page B.