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Robertson and Orchard, DDS

The Five Stages of Tooth Decay

By N. Perry Orchard on August 18, 2017

Illustration demonstrating the stages of tooth decayThere is no doubt that modern restorative dentistry can work wonders on virtually any mouth, no matter what condition it is in. Drs. Charles A. Robertson and N. Perry Orchard have restored form, function, and health to countless mouths through restorative dentistry and would be pleased to do so for you, if you require such treatment. However, there is no substitute for preserving and maintaining the integrity of the healthy teeth that you currently have. It is for this reason that we strongly encourage you to visit our practice at least twice a year for thorough oral exams and professional cleanings as recommended by the American Dental Association.

Routine visits will also give us the opportunity to educate you on the best ways to take care of your teeth in between visits to our practice. For example, Drs. Robertson and Orchard take the time to instruct patients about the stages of tooth decay at our Corpus Christi, TX cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry practice so that patients can recognize when to seek immediate treatment. When it comes to early detection and timely treatment of tooth decay, knowledge truly is power.

If you would like to learn more about how we can help you achieve and maintain the best possible oral health, please schedule your initial consultation with Dr. Charles A. Robertson or Dr. N. Perry Orchard today.

What Are the Stages of Tooth Decay?

There are five basic stages of tooth decay, beginning with the mildest and ending with the most severe. In the first stage, when tooth decay is easiest to treat, symptoms are extremely subtle. This is why it is so important to visit our practice regularly for oral exams. Early diagnosis of tooth decay can often lead to a reversal of any damage done, thereby increasing your chances of keeping your tooth for a lifetime.

The five basic stages of tooth decay are:

  1. Demineralization: At the demineralization stage, a small portion of the enamel layer of the tooth will become demineralized. You may see a tiny white or brown spot. At this point, our dentists may be able to remineralize the tooth and reverse any damage done.
  2. Enamel erosion: As the enamel becomes worn, the underlying dentin starts to show through. This dentin is highly porous, with openings to thousands of microscopic tubules leading to the root canals located inside the teeth. Within these root canals is a substance called dental pulp, comprising nerves, blood vessels, and nutrients. You may therefore experience some tooth sensitivity. The tooth can still effectively be treated with tooth-colored fillings, inlays, onlays, or crowns, depending on the extent of the decay.
  3. Dentin damage: Dentin is more delicate than enamel, so bacteria will damage it more quickly. If you seek treatment immediately at this stage, our dentists may still be able to treat the tooth with a filling, inlay, onlay, or crown.
  4. Dental pulp infection: If the decay reaches one or more of the root canals, the dental pulp within will become infected. At this point, our dentists will have to perform root canal surgery to remove the pulp in order to salvage the tooth. Post-surgery, the tooth will have to be covered with a dental crown to prevent further damage.
  5. Abscess formation: If root canal surgery is not performed, an abscess will form, and the tooth will most likely be lost. At this point, professional treatment becomes even more urgent, however, as infection can spread throughout the mouth, affecting the gums, other teeth, and the jawbone.

Learn More about the Stages of Tooth Decay

To learn more about the stages of tooth decay, please contact our cosmetic, restorative, and general dentistry office today.

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Corpus Christi Office

6421 Saratoga Blvd
Ste 102
Corpus Christi, TX 78414

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