Tooth decay occurs on the hard, outer layer of the tooth. There are five stages of tooth decay and the levels vary depending on severity.

1. Stage One: White Chalky Spots
When initial demineralization occurs you might see white spots appearing on your teeth This visual that occurs is showing the areas of mineral loss and beginning of tooth decay. This happens when the mix of plaque and loss of calcium occurs. Naturally, your body will defend itself against these acids through the remineralization process. Saliva and fluoride in your water helps restore the minerals in your teeth that acids break down.

2. Stage Two: Dental Enamel Decay
Tooth decay begins from the underside outward, in this stage you may notice the white chalky spots darkening to a brown color. This occurs because of the continual attacks on the tooth with harsh acids and a lesion within the tooth forms. Before the lesions turn into a cavity, it is important to visit your dentist to have the lesion treated. The dentist will protect your tooth with fluoride treatments or a dental sealant before it progresses into a cavity.

3. Stage Three: Dentin Decay
As acid continues to decay the tooth further, the layer of tooth located below the enamel is affected. This layer is known as the “dentin” layer, it is hidden below the outer layer of the tooth but covers the pulp. Pain and hypersensitivity will occur at this stage because many microscopic tubules give access to the inner nerve of the tooth. The loss of minerals causes the tooth to collapse and can only be restored through treatment such as a filling at the dental office.

4. Stage Four: Decay Reaches the Pulp
When the decay reaches the center of the tooth, there is a substance known as pulp. It is where all of the nerves and blood vessels of the tooth are located. As tooth decay occurs at this level the pain is more significant. The natural tooth is only able to be restored through a root canal procedure.

5. Stage Five: Abscess
In the final stage, infection beyond the tooth occurs causing rooting of the teeth and damage in the jawbone and surrounding tissues. At this stage surgery is required and immediate medical attention is needed.

If you are experiencing tooth decay, it is important to schedule your dental visit immediately.

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