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Recognizing the Different Stages of Tooth Decay

When it comes to taking care of our teeth, we all make mistakes. We forget to floss or forget our toothbrush on an overnight trip. Forgetfulness is a normal part of the human experience. What is important is ensuring that one mistake doesn’t become a part of a pattern of behavior. If you regularly forego an approved dental hygiene regime, you will likely start seeing the signs of tooth decay. The different stages of tooth decay determine what treatment you will need.

Where Does Tooth Decay Start?

When you don’t brush or floss, tiny scraps of food and drink remain on your teeth. When introduced to your saliva, these scraps begin to develop into plaque. This plaque contains bacteria, which can cause infection and increase the risks of tooth decay. Sugar further complicates the issue, giving the bacteria something to feed on.

As the bacteria feed, they produce acids that begin to break down your enamel, eventually resulting in a cavity. Fortunately, it usually takes plaque at least four hours to form, so if you’re brushing two to three times a day, you have a good chance of beating tooth decay before it even starts. As a top dentist in Bloomington, Valley Alder is here to treat any dental concerns you may have.

Is Tooth Decay Reversible?

For people who have only recently begun to neglect dental hygiene, it is possible to reverse the early stages of tooth decay. The beginning of tooth decay is usually visible in the form of small, chalky white areas on the tooth’s surface. These are areas where plaque has begun to break down the enamel, causing demineralization of the tooth’s surface.

At this early stage, it is vital that you have an honest conversation with your dentist about your daily habits. If you are brushing and flossing regularly, your dentist will need to evaluate your toothbrush and method of brushing. It could be that there are areas you are missing, or you may be brushing too hard. Finding the root cause of your plaque will help to prevent the progression of tooth decay and allow your teeth to recover.

What’s After Enamel?

If your condition goes untreated and your habits don’t change for the better, you risk the complete destruction of the tooth’s protective layer. Once the enamel has been penetrated, the dentin on the interior of the tooth is exposed to the bacteria within the plaque. When the dentin is damaged, you will begin to feel an ache at the site of injury. This ache can worsen over time, so it is important that you make an appointment with your dentist at Valley Alder as soon as possible.

During your appointment, your dentist will evaluate your oral health. You will need to have digital dental x-rays done to see the full extent of the damage. And you will likely require professional dental cleaning in Bloomington. The cavity will be treated based on its severity, and root planing may be necessary if you have moderate to advanced gingivitis as a result of the plaque’s growth. If the damage has reached the pulp of the tooth, then a filling will not be enough, and root canal therapy will be used instead.

Beyond the Root Canal

Extreme pain that is usually associated with a severely infected tooth. So few people make it to the abscess stage without seeing a dentist for pain first. If the infection is allowed to spread down through the root, then the jawbone itself is put at risk. In most cases, the tooth will have to be removed and replaced with a prosthetic. Therefore, if you have any concerns about your current oral health or hygiene practices, please have an honest conversation with your dentist to prevent tooth decay from taking place or getting worse.