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The Five Stages of a Cavity

stages of a cavity Elgin

In this message from David Rice DDS in Elgin IL we discuss something about cavities you might not know. You may have heard that once tooth enamel is eroded, it’s gone forever. This is not entirely true. In the earliest stage of enamel erosion, a cavity can be reversed.

There are five main stages to cavities. Our team has listed them below to keep you informed.

Stage 1: Attack of the Little White Spots

Reversible: Yes

The tooth begins to show signs of damage. White spots appear. They are under the surface of the enamel, but you can see them from the outside. Demineralization will result in these spots. When they occur in children’s molars, it can be easy for parents to miss them. That’s why daily dental hygiene and regular dental exams are crucial. At this stage, it’s possible to halt a cavity before it needs a filling. Dental hygiene can stop the erosion. Fluoride can remineralize the enamel.

Stage 2: Enamel Decay

Reversible: No, but the tooth can probably be saved

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.

Stage 3: Going Deeper Into the Dentin

Reversible: No, but if you act fast, the tooth might not need a root canal.

The decay breaks down the enamel and hits the soft dentin layer that lies below. This is an advanced cavity. The good news? The decay hasn’t yet reached the pulp. It will, however, start to cause pain.

Stage 4: The Decay Hits the Pulp

Reversible: No. Must be treated with a root canal.

Hopefully, no patient will ever suffer this stage. It 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 extracted.

Stage 5: Abscess Distress

Reversible: No, and it can be life-threatening.

The decay and infection have traveled through the pulp and out the end. In the final stage, the infection drills through the tip, after which it reaches the tissue and bone, surrounding the tooth root. The area swells up and it’s exceptionally painful. It’s also hazardous 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.

Protect yourself and your loved ones from tooth decay so you all have a healthy smile for life. Patients from throughout Bartlet, South Elgin, and Wayne come to David Rice DDS in Elgin IL for cosmetic and restorative dentistry services. Request an appointment today!

Contact David A. Rice, DDS:


Location (Tap to open in Google Maps):

1972 Larkin Ave #1
Elgin, IL

ArticleID 8247

Memberships & Associations

Dr. David Rice, DDS, KOIS Center Clinical Instructor membership page The American Academy of Restorative Dentistry membership logo for Dr. Rice, DDS Elgin dentist Dr. David Rice is a member of the American Dental Association Illinois State Dental Society membership badge for Dr. David Rice, DDS


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