Decay can deteriorate our teeth and over time if not treated, the teeth can become loose and even fall out. Decay damages teeth and can cause dental abscesses that can become serious if not treated. When you have plaque build up the plaque uses the sugars in the food you eat to create acids. These acids are what damages and eats away at the enamel on our teeth.
During the decay process there are various phases that happen. These signs can indicate that you need to see your dentist to try and remove the plaque before it is too late. At North Houston Periodontics & Dental Implants, we focus on prevention and teach our patients how to practice good oral hygiene habits at home. Taking care of our teeth from children through adulthood is important, and can prevent many serious issues as we get older.
What Are the Stages of Tooth Decay?
Plaque buildup can cover the surfaces of your teeth, and if you do not have your teeth cleaned regularly this plaque can turn into hard tarter. Once the tarter develops this makes it difficult to remove the bacteria that are causing the plaque.
The outer layer of your teeth is made up of enamel. Enamel is very durable and made of many minerals. When your teeth are exposed to plaque bacteria, the acids attack the enamel and break down. Some patients may notice white spots developing on their teeth. This indicates the decay has reached the enamel.
Decay of Enamel
Once the decay begins to attack the enamel of the tooth, the enamel will just continue to break down. If you notice a white spot on your tooth, this may turn darker or brown at this stage of decay. Eventually, cavities develop, and you must visit your dentist to have the area filled.
Effects on Dentin
Dentin is the layer beneath the enamel. This layer is a lot softer and not as durable as enamel. If acid reaches this layer, it can really cause damage quickly. Once the bacteria and decay reach the dentin of your tooth you may develop sensitivity to hot or cold.
Damage to the Pulp Area
If you notice swelling in or around a tooth this may indicate you have damage to the pulp area of the tooth. This area contains many nerves and blood vessels. When the pulp area swells, this can push on the nerves and cause severe pain.
If the decay has reached the pulp area of the tooth, the bacteria can cause an infection. You may notice pus around the area. Abscesses can cause severe pain in the mouth and jaw. Swelling may be present in the gums, face, or neck. If you think you have an abscess, we recommend calling our office right away. At this point treatment may require removing the tooth, or the tooth may fall out on its own.
What Treatment Is Available?
Depending on the level of decay and severity of damage will determine what treatment is required. Our doctors have years of experience in periodontics, and always have our patients’ best interest in mind. Our team will evaluate the area, and develop a customized treatment plan. We will discuss treatment options, and always try and save the tooth before we resort to removal.
If the patient only has decay in the enamel layer most likely a filling can correct the issue, and preserve the tooth. For teeth that have decay on the dentin layer, this may require a filling and a crown. When patients come in with pulp damage, a root canal may be needed to help save the tooth and clean out any infection. If the patient has an abscess and the damage is so severe that saving the tooth is not possible, we may resort to removing the tooth completely. If tooth removal is required, our team will discuss tooth restoration options to restore your smile.
At North Houston Periodontics & Dental Implants your oral health is our priority, and we strive to provide the highest level of care to all of our patients. We use state of the art equipment, and use the latest tools and techniques in the dental industry. Our doctors and staff have specialized training for dental emergencies, and can handle any type of emergency that comes our way.
Interested in Making an Appointment?
If you are in severe pain and think you have an issue with a tooth due to decay, contact North Houston Periodontics & Dental Implants, and we can rid you of pain, and get you on the road to recovery. We provide quality and affordable dental care you can trust.
To schedule your appointment contact North Houston Periodontics & Dental Implants, and our friendly staff will be happy to assist you.