Cavities are one of the most prevalent oral health problems. They can form because of a combination of poor oral hygiene habits and consuming too much sugar. Regular checkups and cleanings at your dentist’s office help prevent them. But if you do happen to get a cavity, it’s essential to fix it right away.
Your dentist doesn’t want to be the bearer of bad news. But if you’ve been searching for reliable cavity treatment from your Florissant or St. Louis County dental office, we can stop the problem from getting worse. Our trusted dentists, Dr. Christopher Webber and Dr. Azaryas Mandefro, stress the importance of early cavity treatment. Without prompt intervention, the early stages of a cavity can progress and lead to more severe issues.
What Is a Cavity and How Can It Progress?
Cavities form when acids and bacteria in your mouth destroy your teeth’s enamel. Without this protective coating, your teeth can start to decay. The early stages of a cavity are usually reversible since your enamel can repair itself. Saliva and fluoride are some of the ways tooth enamel reverses damage.
But if too many minerals in the enamel are lost, you’ll get a cavity. Small cavities caught in the beginning stages usually only require a filling from your dentist. For slightly larger areas, you might need an inlay.
What is Cavity Progression?
When left untreated, tooth decay can get worse. The decay can damage your tooth’s dentin and pulp layers. You may start to experience tooth sensitivity and pain.
If the decay becomes extensive enough, your tooth could develop an infection. More than likely, a painful abscess will appear. At this stage, the infection may spread to your jaw.
What Are the Different Stages of Cavities?
There are five different stages of a cavity you should know about. While only your dentist can confirm a cavity, awareness of the stages and symptoms can help. It’s also helpful to know the typical cavity progression timeline. But remember, lifestyle and genetic factors can influence how fast cavity stages progress.
What Are the 5 Cavity Stages You Should Know About?
Ready to dive into the stages of cavities and when you should go to your dentist for cavity treatment? Here’s what you need to know.
1. The Early Stages of a Cavity
The early stages of a cavity consist of demineralization. Once enough plaque and acid accumulate, your enamel begins to lose its strength. The enamel is what protects your tooth and its inner layers. Without it, your teeth become exposed to the full brunt of bacteria, plaque, tarter, and acid.
So, what does the start of a cavity look like at this stage? With demineralization, you might see white specks and spots on your teeth. In this stage, it’s easier to stop and reverse tooth decay. You can treat at home with a fluoride mouthwash or visit your Florissant and St. Louis County dentist for a professional fluoride treatment.
2. Enamel Loss and Decay
Once demineralization advances, the white spots you see on your teeth can turn a darker color. At first, the spots may turn brown. However, you may notice black or darker spots in the grooves of your teeth.
When you don’t reverse demineralization in time, too much enamel is lost and a cavity emerges. Keeping up with your regular dental exams and cleanings can prevent demineralization from becoming a cavity. But once a cavity forms, you’ll need your dentist to fill it. A filling stops the cavity from spreading.
3. Penetration of Tooth Dentin
Say you don’t get to your dentist in time and you have unfilled cavities you don’t know about. If left untreated, tooth decay can penetrate the next layer of your teeth. It’s called dentin and connects to your teeth’s nerves.
Once you reach this stage, the cavity progression timeline can speed up. You might notice a sharp pain when you eat ice cream or drink hot coffee. Ignoring these symptoms isn’t wise. Get to your dentist as soon as possible and let them know where you’re experiencing tooth sensitivity.
4. Nerve Pain and Pulp Decay
Your tooth’s pulp layer is made up of blood vessels and nerves. They keep your teeth alive. If decay penetrates the pulp, you’ll notice swelling. You’ll also experience more pain. At this stage, you may need a root canal. It’s also possible you’ll need to have a dentist extract a pulp-damaged tooth.
5. Tooth Abscess
An abscess is the final stage in the cavity progression timeline. Plus, it’s the most serious. With an abscess, you’re looking at severe pain and an infection. This stage requires immediate cavity treatment.
Without intervention, the infection will spread to other areas of your mouth. These areas include other teeth, gums, and the jaw bone. Removal of the infected tooth is a strong possibility, so you may also want to check out your restorative dentistry options in Florissant or St. Louis County.
What is the Average Cavity Progression Timeline?
The average cavity progression timeline can vary from individual to individual. It may take a few months or years for a cavity to show up. It depends on how often your teeth come into contact with harmful acidic and sugary foods. Your oral hygiene routine, including preventative dental care, will strongly influence cavity progression.
How Can I Recognize the Early Stages of a Cavity?
As you floss and brush your teeth, look for white spots. These are areas you can try to treat at home with better brushing and flossing methods. You might also try a stronger toothpaste and mouthwash. Some toothpastes include deeper cleaning agents and stronger forms of fluoride.
Besides white spots, take note of any darker spots on your teeth. Keep track of whether you feel pain when chewing or consuming hot and cold foods. Don’t hesitate to have your dentist take a look if you’re unsure.
Effective Cavity Treatment and Prevention in Florissant and St. Louis County, MO
Now you know what a cavity is and why waiting to seek cavity treatment can be a race against time. Home treatment can help prevent problems, but for reliable cavity treatment you need an experienced dentist in Florissant and St. Louis County. Our office can get you on a regular exam schedule to prevent and reverse early signs of tooth decay. We also handle emergencies and urgent requests if your tooth decay has progressed.
Please contact us If you have any concerns about the care our offices can provide. We focus on delivering pain-free cavity treatment options for our patients. Our office strives to be the best dentist in Florissant for each smile we treat. To catch problems early, don’t forget to schedule an appointment with Soft Touch Dental in Florissant and St. Louis County!