Despite being highly preventable, tooth decay remains one of the most chronic diseases. In fact, 90% of Australians have some form of tooth decay.
The best way to prevent tooth decay is to know more about it. The article discusses the stages of tooth decay, treatments for each one such as dental crowns and more, and, more importantly, preventative dental care. So let’s jump in and get started.
The 5 Stages of Tooth Decay
If decay is left untreated, it progressively worsens and displays different symptoms. Here’s a look at the various stages of tooth decay and how to treat each one.
White, chalky spots on the tooth
The enamel is the tooth’s outer surface and is the hardest substance in the body. Without twice daily thorough tooth brushing, acidic plaque accumulates on the enamel.
And when exposed for a long time, the acid demineralises the enamel, causing white spots to appear on the tooth surface. This is the first sign of tooth decay.
The initial damage caused by enamel demineralisation can be reversed with fluoride. Your dentist may recommend fluoride varnish or fluoride-rich mouthwashes and toothpaste.
Brown decay on the tooth enamel
If the progress of deterioration is not addressed, decay will further damage the tooth enamel. The white spots will start turning brown, and holes or cavities on your tooth will form. The tooth is more sensitive at this stage, and pain may linger as the decay worsens.
The cavities need must be filled to prevent them from getting larger and causing further damage to the tooth. The dentist will first remove any decayed sections before placing a filling to restore its structure.
Decay of the dentin
After the enamel, decay will go deeper into the dentin. This is softer than the tooth enamel and more sensitive to acids, so the spread of decay is more rapid at this stage.
The dentin also contains tubules linked to nerve fibres in the tooth. So you can expect severe tooth pain and extreme tooth sensitivity with dentin decay.
Early dentin decay can still be treated with larger dental fillings. However, your dentist will likely recommend a dental crown if considerable damage has occurred. In this procedure, all the decay will be removed, and the tooth will be reshaped to accommodate the crown.
A crown is a hollow cover or cap placed on a tooth with extensive decay and damage. The primary function of dental crowns is to restore the function and appearance of your tooth.
After infecting the dentin, tooth decay will then progress to the pulp layer, the area that houses blood vessels and nerves that keep the tooth alive. At this stage, pain may either be severe, or the tooth will be asymptomatic due to pulp death.
Your dentist will need to do root canal therapy to eliminate and prevent reinfection and save your tooth. Then, a dental crown will be placed on top of the weakened tooth to provide additional strength and protection.
In the final stage of tooth decay, bacteria will accumulate in the decaying pulp and infect the tooth. An abscess may form, the gums will inflame, and in some worst-case scenarios, your cheek may swell due to the spread of bacteria.
If root canal treatment and a dental crown do not suffice to save the tooth, extraction is a treatment to avoid systemic health risks.
Dental crowns as a treatment for tooth decay
Dental crowns are the best treatment for a tooth with significant decay and damage as they strengthen the tooth’s weakened structure and restore functionality.
At No Gaps Dental, we have several options for treatment with dental crowns.
Some of the dental crowns we offer include:
- Gold alloy dental crown, the gold standard for longevity
- Porcelain-fused-to-metal dental crown for an ideal balance of strength and esthetics
- All-porcelain dental crown which is recommended for the restoration of the front teeth due to its excellent likeness to the natural tooth
About same-day CEREC dental crowns
Decay spreads fast, so an efficient treatment with quick and excellent results is ideal.
Traditional dental crowns take weeks to complete, but thanks to innovative CEREC technology, we only need a day to finish your dental crown.
Everything is done in just one dental visit, from designing, creating, and bonding the crown to your tooth.
Our dentist will prepare your tooth, take a digital scan, and in just a few hours, you can have your dental crown.
No messy impression taking, no temporary crowns, and no weeks of waiting for your crown to come back from the lab.
Prevention of tooth decay
The best way to prevent tooth decay is through good oral hygiene and frequent dental visits. With proper tooth brushing and flossing, plaque that causes tooth decay is removed. And with regular dental check-ups and cleaning, our dentist can detect and treat any problems before they become more extensive and expensive.
If at any time you experience any of the stages of tooth decay, immediately contact your dentist for early intervention and better outcomes.
Are you suffering from tooth decay?
Our team at No Gaps Dental provides the most efficient and effective treatments for tooth decay, no matter the stage. From dental fillings to modern dental crowns, we are equipped to take care of you and your smile.
Call us on (02) 8806 0227 or book your visit online to know more!
Pub Med NCBI -Tooth Enamel and its Dynamic Protein Matrix
Center For Disease Control and Prevention – Oral Health Conditions
ABC News- Dental report finds only half of all Australians brush their teeth twice a day
Science Direct – Acid-induced demineralisation of human enamel as a function of time and pH observed using X-ray and polarised light imaging
PubMed – Potential remineralisation of demineralised enamel after application of fluoride varnish
PubMed – Aspects of dentinal and pulpal pain. Pain of dentinal and pulpal origin–a review for the clinician
PubMed – Porcelain-Fused-to-Metal Crowns versus All-ceramic Crowns: A Review of the Clinical and Cost-Effectiveness