Proper oral hygiene is a cornerstone of good health no matter who you are. Most people learned to brush and floss their teeth when they were children. Thankfully, most of us have more or less stuck to that routine as we have grown up. Some of us have not, though, and the results are not pleasant. Whether you are just wondering, “How does tooth decay develop?” or are looking for ways to show your kids the importance of taking care of their teeth, here are four stages of tooth decay developing in a person’s mouth.
How Does Tooth Decay Develop? It Starts With Plaque
If you have ever gone a day or two without brushing, you are intimately familiar with the gross, sticky film that starts to coat your mouth. This is residue from the various starchy and sugary things you put in your mouth. This plaque is just as delicious to bacteria as that candy bar was to you, and it makes your mouth a breeding ground for disease. This is the easiest place to stop decay as regular brushing and dental checkups and cleanings are enough to handle plaque if that is your only issue.
Tartar and Enamel Breakdown
If you miss one session of brushing, it is not the end of the world. However, if you regularly go days without cleaning your mouth, this can start to have big consequences. When you do not regularly brush plaque away, it can harden into tartar when it mixes with the different minerals and other substances in your saliva.
Tartar builds up the same as plaque, but its solid and porous structure makes it an ideal breeding ground for more bacteria and can even inhibit normal cleaning. When this happens, the acid that bacteria produce increases. This allows them to more easily go through your enamel and cause major damage to your teeth.
How Cavities Develop
Cavities are holes in your tooth’s enamel. They are caused by bacteria eating their way through a tooth after feeding on plaque for a significant amount of time. When the cavities finally break through your mouth, they are able to attack deeper areas of the tooth like the soft dentin.
This is usually when a tooth begins to hurt. When the cavity starts to dissolve under bacteria, this causes you pain. While it is not too late to save a tooth at this stage, it is going to take some professional help, a good cleaning, and some tooth fillings for protection.
When Full Decay Occurs
The longer you wait for treatment, the more damage you will do to your tooth after bacteria have breached the enamel. As the dentin breaks down, your tooth will begin to hollow out and rot. This is especially true as the pulp of the tooth starts to take on damage. The pulp contains nerves and the blood vessels leading up into the tooth, and irritating it can cause serious pain.
When the damage goes deeper than that, it reaches the root, which connects your tooth to your jaw. If your tooth becomes this damaged, you are likely going to need a dental crown to replace part of the tooth. A root canal might save a seriously damaged tooth by removing the infection from inside though the most serious cases might require tooth extraction and a replacement tooth.
How Lovett Dental Conroe Can Help When Tooth Decay Develops
Tooth decay is a serious issue. We hope this guide detailing four phases of this affliction has helped prove that to you a bit more. If you are looking to get to a dentist for a checkup or other procedure, call Lovett Dental in Conroe today at 936.274.1925 to schedule an appointment. Whether you need a routine cleaning or a more specialized procedure, we are always happy to help you keep your smile bright and beautiful.