You may have heard that once tooth enamel is eroded, it’s gone forever. This is partially true, but in in this post from Stephen Ratcliff Family and Cosmetic Dentistry in Arlington we explain how in the earliest stage of enamel erosion, a cavity can be reversed.
Let’s describe 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 essential.
It this stage, it’s possible to reverse 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 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, your youngster will never suffer 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, 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 tooth 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 risky 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 child from tooth decay so they can have a healthy smile for life.
If you see little white dots, schedule an exam and dental cleaning at Stephen Ratcliff Family & Cosmetic Dentistry right away. People from Mansfield and Grand Prairie come to us for complete general dentistry and emergency care. Call us for an appointment today!
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