tooth decay

Have your teeth been troubling you? Are they causing you pain? If so, your teeth could be having decay or as we like to call it, dental caries. However, teeth decay don’t always start as pain.If you’re experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity, it could be a sign of dental caries, a common condition taught in dental college They go through 5 different stages, from initial chalky white spots and finally culminating in teeth abscess which are extremely painful. During the initial stages of decay, the progression of the disease can be stopped or even reversed. Read on to understand how the teeth decay come about and go through the 5 different stages and what needs to be done during each of these stages to restore them to health.


Tooth decay is caused by the activity of certain species of bacteria that live in dental plaque. Plaque is a colorless, sticky film that covers the surfaces of your teeth. It’s made up of bacteria, food particles, and saliva. The bacteria in plaque convert the sugars present in your food into acids. If plaque is allowed to build up over time or if food remains on tooth surfaces for a long time, these acids can begin to damage your teeth. This is why maintaining good oral hygiene practices are key to preventing tooth decay.

Stage 1: Chalky White Spots

The outer layer of the tooth is composed of enamel. Enamel is the hardest tissue in your body and is mostly made up of minerals, however they are susceptible to attack by acids. As a tooth is exposed to acids over a prolonged period of time, the enamel begins to lose these minerals resulting in demineralized chalky white spots on the enamel. The body will initially try to protect the teeth from these acids using its own natural defences by a process called remineralization. Using saliva or the fluoride in your tooth paste, the body will try to restore the minerals. However, if this process is not successful, this leads us to the second stage of decay.

These white spots can be easily missed and a dental examination may be needed to catch such cavities. But finding them as early as possible is crucial as during this stage, the decay can be repaired without the need to excavate the tooth. Ask us about our fluoride treatments and what we can do to help you prevent cavities today!

Stage 2: Decay of the Tooth Enamel

When acid remains on the teeth for a long time, the body cannot re-mineralize quickly enough and the enamel will break down further. The white spot on a tooth darkens to a brownish color and a lesion will form within the tooth. Lesions proceed into a cavity or hole in your tooth, and they are not painful since there are no nerves in the dental enamel. However, the dentist must treat a lesion in the enamel to protect your tooth from further damage by using dental sealants.

Stage 3: Decay of the Dentin

If the cavity remains untreated, the enamel will continue to break down and soon the lesion reaches the next layer of tooth, the dentin. It is softer than enamel ad the decay progresses at a rapid pace. The dentin has many microscopic dentinal tubules which provide access to the inner core of the tooth which houses the nerves and blood vessels, the pulp. Hence, when the decay reaches this stage, you may begin experiencing sensitivity especially when having cold or hot or sweet food or drinks. At this stage, you must make a dental visit to have restorative treatment (such as a filling), or your decay may worsen to involve the pulp of your tooth.

Stage 4: Decay affecting the pulp

Once the cavity reaches the pulp, there is going to be significant pain. When damage to the pulp happens, there will be pulpal inflammation and resultant swelling which causes pain when lying down because of the pressure placed on the nerves. Now, the only way to salvage the natural tooth is to undergo Root Canal Therapy. The dentist will remove the infected pulp and seal the tooth during the root canal procedure. Now a crown, which is a prosthetic device that covers the tooth and is taught in dental colleges, is indicated for the affected tooth to provide extra protection and support.

Stage 5: Abscess formation

In the fifth and final stage of a cavity, the infection progresses throughout the pulp and reaches the tip of the root leading to a pocket of pus at the root tip, called an abscess. Tooth abscesses cause severe pain that may radiate to the jaw and ear.  They may also present swelling of the gums, face or jaws, swollen lymph nodes and even fever. A tooth abscess requires immediate treatment as the infection can spread to surrounding tissues and can damage even the jaw bone. Treatment at this stage, may involve root canal therapy, tooth extraction or even minor surgical procedures like apicectomy.

Now you know, cavities don’t happen overnight. In the early stages, regular visits can stop the progression of dental decay. Taking preventing measures like regular fluoride treatment and getting pit and fissure sealants also go a long way. If you are suffering for dental decay or if want to make sure you don’t go through these 5 stages, schedule your appointment today at Dental college in Kerala PMS College of Dental Science and Research – Affordable, Family-Friendly Care for Patients of All Ages!

PMS College of Dental Science and Research, is widely recognized as one of the best dental colleges in Kerala. The college has advanced dental care facilities and a commitment to high-quality dental research. From kids to senior citizens, a full range of dental services, including cleanings, oral hygiene, dentures, fillings, root canals, and more are offered here. Make sure to keep your smiles healthy!