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. Let’s discuss the five stages of a cavity. Remember, at stage one, it can be reversed.
Stage 1: Attack of the Little White Spots
At this stage, the tooth begins to show signs that something’s going on. The first evidence is little white spots. Though they are under the surface of the enamel, you can see them from the outside.
Demineralization will bring about these spots. When they occur in children’s molars, it can be easy for parents to miss them. That’s why daily dental hygiene and regular dental exams are essential. If you have children, make sure you bring them for regular dental exams.
At this stage, it’s possible to stop a cavity before it needs a filling. Dental hygiene can stop erosion and 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 drills into the enamel and hits the soft dentin layer that lies below. This is a severe 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, you will never withstand 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 taken out.
Remember, 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 exceptionally 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.
Can Stage 5 be reversed? No…and it’s life-threatening.
Protect your teeth from decay so you can have a healthy smile for life.
If you see little white dots, schedule an exam and dental cleaning at Pediatric Dental Center in Burlington, Ky.