Before we describe the different parts of a tooth and tooth decay stages, let us understand what dental decay is and how it happens.

What is Dental Decay?

There is a wide range of foods and beverages containing sugars. When the deposits of these sugars remain on our teeth, these can produce acids, which then attack the enamel in the form of dental decay. It causes a cavity, which can lead to tooth loss if left untreated. Let us explain the causes and signs of tooth decay.

What Causes Dental Decay?

Poor oral hygiene can cause plaque and tartar build-up, which leads to dental decay.

On the other hand, issues like dry mouth and acid reflux can also be a cause. Despite having a good oral hygiene routine at home, it is important to go for regular dental cleanings so even those parts of the mouth that are hard to reach yourself remain free of decay.

Signs of tooth decay include toothache (continuous, keeping you awake, or occasion sharp pain without obvious reason), bad breath, unpleasant taste in the mouth, tooth sensitivity to extreme temperatures and sweet edibles, and spots on the teeth (brown, grey, or black).

The Parts of a Tooth

To understand how it affects a tooth at different stages, it is important to learn about the parts of a tooth. Each tooth has three layers as follows:


It is the outermost layer of the tooth and the hardest tissue in your body. It protects the tooth from the damage that may occur due to plaque when it is not removed properly.


Underneath the enamel, the next layer is the dentin. If the enamel becomes damaged and the dentin is exposed, the person is likely to feel sensitivity.


The pulp is tissue lying inside the core of the tooth. It consists of nerves and blood vessels, due to which this is the most sensitive layer.

The Tooth Decay Stages

Typically, It has five stages as follows:


When a tooth is exposed to acids produced by plaque bacteria, the enamel begins to lose its minerals; therefore, the erosion begins. As this happens, you may notice a white spot on the tooth, which indicates the area of mineral loss and is the first indication of dental decay.

Decaying Enamel

Enamel will deteriorate further if the decaying process is allowed to continue. The white spot may darken to a brownish color over time. As your enamel deteriorates, small holes in your teeth known as cavities, or dental caries, will form.

Decaying Dentin

The dentin is softer than enamel so when the decay reaches it, the progression takes place at a faster rate. Dentin also contains tubes that connect to the tooth’s nerves. As a result, when dentin is affected by tooth decay, you may experience sensitivity.

Damaged Pulp

When the pulp is damaged, it may become irritated and begin to swell. Because the surrounding tissues in the tooth are unable to expand to accommodate the swelling, pressure on the nerves may result in pain.

Formation of Abscess

Bacteria can invade and cause an infection as tooth decay progresses into the pulp. Increased inflammation in the tooth can result in the formation of a pocket of pus at the bottom of your tooth, known as an abscess.

Tooth abscesses can cause excruciating pain that radiates into the jaw. Swelling of the gums, face, or jaw, fever, and swollen lymph nodes in your neck are all possible symptoms. A person should get immediate treatment for a tooth abscess because the infection can spread to the bones of the jaw as well as other areas of the head and neck. In some cases, treatment may entail the extraction of the affected tooth.

To learn more about the tooth decay removal services by Sue Vetter’s dental care in Seattle, please call or visit us.










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