In this blog post from Love Your Smile in Kelowna we discuss tooth decay and dental health.
You may have heard that once tooth enamel is eroded, it’s gone forever. This is partially true, but in the earliest stage of enamel erosion, a cavity can be reversed.
Reverse a cavity before it needs a filling
If you can avoid cavities in youngsters, there’s a better chance that their teeth can stay healthy through adolescence and into adulthood.
This is because the rate of tooth decay declines as youngsters grow.
Let’s review the five stages of a cavity.
Stage 1: Attack of the Little White Spots
The tooth begins to show signs of harm. White spots appear. They are under the surface of the enamel, but you can see them from the outside.
Demineralization will lead to these spots. When they occur in children’s molars, it can be easy for moms and dads to miss them. That’s why daily dental hygiene and regular dental exams are vital.
It this stage, it’s possible to stop a cavity before it needs a filling. Dental hygiene can stop the erosion. Fluoride can remineralize the enamel.
Can Stage 1 be reversed? Yes!
Stage 2: Enamel Decay
Did you know that tooth decay begins under the surface of the enamel?
The visible enamel is intact for the first part of Stage 2. Then the hole busts through the surface.
Can Stage 2 be reversed? No…but the tooth can probably be saved.
Stage 3: Going Deeper Into the Dentin
The decay breaks down the enamel and hits the soft dentin layer that lies below. This is an advanced cavity.
The good news?
The decay hasn’t yet reached the pulp. It will, however, start to cause pain.
Can Stage 3 be reversed? No…but maybe the tooth won’t need a root canal.
Stage 4: Ouch! The Decay Hits the Pulp
Hopefully, your child will never experience stage 4. This is very painful. The infection has reached the pulp where the nerves are located. Unfortunately, a root canal is the only treatment option. Unless, of course, the tooth is removed.
Remember, childhood cavities are completely preventable.
Can Stage 4 be reversed? No…and it must be treated with a root canal.
Stage 5: Abscess Distress
The decay (and infection) has traveled through the pulp and out the end. In the final stage, it drills through the tip. Now the infection is in the tissue and bone surrounding the tooth root. The area swells up and it’s very painful.
It’s also dangerous for anyone’s health. This is a serious infection that can spread to other parts of the body. Abscesses originating in a tooth can be fatal.