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Stages of Tooth Decay

Posted on 3/1/2024 by Weo Admin
A dentist holding a missing toothTooth decay, a common dental issue, progresses through several stages, each requiring attention and care to prevent further damage. Understanding these stages empowers you to maintain your dental health proactively.


Demineralization occurs when acids produced by bacteria in plaque attack the enamel. Plaque, a sticky film of bacteria, thrives on sugars and starches left on your teeth after consuming food and beverages. Over time, these acids weaken the enamel, leading to the formation of tiny cavities. While the enamel can repair itself to some extent with minerals from saliva and fluoride from toothpaste, proper oral hygiene is crucial to prevent demineralization from progressing.

Enamel Decay

As demineralization continues unchecked, enamel decay sets in. The enamel surface breaks down at this stage, creating visible cavities. You may notice discoloration or rough spots on your teeth, indicating enamel erosion. Decay can penetrate the tooth structure, leading to more severe complications.

Dentin Decay

Dentin, the layer beneath the enamel, is susceptible to decay once the enamel is compromised. Dentin decay progresses more rapidly than enamel decay due to its softer nature. As bacteria infiltrate the dentin, you may experience increased tooth sensitivity to hot, cold, or sweet foods. Sensitivity indicates that decay has advanced and warrants immediate dental attention to prevent further damage.

Pulp Decay

At this critical stage, decay reaches the pulp, which is the innermost part of the tooth containing nerves and blood vessels. Pulp decay causes intense toothache, swelling, and potential abscess formation. Ignoring these symptoms can lead to severe infections and complications requiring root canal therapy or even tooth extraction. Early detection and treatment are essential to preserve the tooth structure and prevent extensive damage.


An abscess forms when bacteria infect the pulp and surrounding tissues, causing a painful pocket of pus to develop. Symptoms include severe pain, swelling, fever, and general discomfort. Your dentist will assess the abscess and recommend appropriate drainage, antibiotics, or root canal therapy.

Early detection and intervention are crucial to maintaining a healthy smile. Schedule regular dental checkups, and do not hesitate to discuss any concerns you have with our dentist.

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(352) 666-9898


3429 Mariner Blvd.
Spring Hill, FL 34609-2463

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DeLuca, Ressel, & Congemi Dental Care - Dr. James DeLuca DMD, Dr. Nick Ressel DMD, 3429 Mariner Blvd., Spring Hill, FL 34609 ~ (352) 666-9898 ~ ~ 4/19/2024 ~ Tags: dentist spring hill fl ~