Do you know how long it takes for a cavity to form? Contrary to what many people believe, it doesn’t happen overnight. In fact, cavities can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years to develop. In this blog post, we will discuss the three different types of cavities and the five stages of tooth decay. We will also explain what happens during each stage of tooth decay and provide tips on how to prevent cavities from forming.
Types of Cavities
There are three different types of cavities: smooth surface, pit and fissure, and root cavities.
- Smooth surface cavities form on the smooth surfaces of your teeth.
- Pit and fissure cavities form in the grooves and pits of your teeth.
- Root cavities form on the roots of your teeth.
The Five Stages of Tooth Decay
Tooth decay is a progressive disease that occurs in five stages:
Stage One: Demineralization
This is the earliest stage of tooth decay. It happens when plaque forms on your teeth and the bacteria found in plaque start to break down the minerals in your tooth enamel. This can cause white spots to form on the surface of your teeth. If caught early on, demineralization can be reversed by treating the teeth with fluoride.
Stage Two: Enamel Decay
This is the second stage of tooth decay. At this stage, bacteria erode the enamel so that it starts to break down, allowing small cavities to form. At this point, only the enamel layer is affected and the cavity can be treated with a composite filling.
Stage Three: Dentin Decay
This is the third stage of tooth decay. At this stage, bacteria have eroded through the enamel to reach the dentin layer. The bacteria start to break down the dentin and larger cavities begin to form. At this point, you may experience tooth sensitivity since the dentin contains small channels that lead to the inside of the tooth. Composite fillings may be used at this point for treatment, or larger fillings, known as inlays or onlays, may be necessary.
Stage Four: Pulp Decay
This is the fourth stage of tooth decay. At this stage, the pulp (the innermost layer of your tooth containing blood vessels and nerves) becomes exposed and you may start to experience pain. When bacteria reach the pulp, they cause an infection known as pulpitis. This infection can only be removed with root canal therapy.
Stage Five: Abscess
This is the final stage of tooth decay. At this stage, the infection has spread down through the tooth roots and has reached the bone surrounding your tooth. The bone begins to break down, causing an abscess (a pus-filled pocket) to form. If left untreated, an abscess can lead to serious health complications. In most cases, the tooth will need to be extracted at this point to prevent the infection from continuing to spread.
In this blog post, we have discussed the three different types of cavities and the five stages of tooth decay. We have also explained what happens during each stage of tooth decay. Cavities are a progressive disease that can take many years to develop. However, with proper oral hygiene and regular dental visits, cavities can be prevented. If you think you may have a cavity, it is important to see your dentist as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment can help prevent the cavity from getting worse.
Dr. Gerald Sisko graduated from Ohio State University College of Dentistry in 1987. He is an active member of the American Dental Association, the Ohio Dental Association, and the Akron Dental Society where he is currently holding a council position. He has had the honor and distinction of being awarded “TOP DENTIST” in Akron and Cleveland as well as Northeast Ohio for the last several consecutive years.