Did you know that an estimated 2 billion people worldwide suffer from tooth decay? Tooth decay is a surprisingly common problem, both among children and adults. Even more, people complete permanent damage that leads to the need for dental implants.
Considering how important our teeth are, this can lead to a lot of problems. Without our teeth, chewing and consuming food becomes impossible.
When the costs of extra dental visits, replacement teeth, and root canal treatments to help repair damaged teeth are added, it’s no wonder many people choose prevention instead.
Keep reading to learn about the early stage tooth decay. Keep an eye out for them so you can get the help you need fast.
Table of Contents
White Spots on the Teeth
These spots indicate a decrease in enamel, which protects the teeth from bacteria. The bacteria present in the mouth, along with food and beverages full of sugar and acid, can penetrate through the enamel, causing cavities. If left untreated, the decay will spread, becoming more painful and expensive to fix.
These spots are caused by the loss of minerals from the tooth enamel and indicate that the tooth is beginning to demineralize. If caught early, the demineralization process can be reversed with the use of fluoride treatments.
If you experience discomfort or pain when you eat or drink hot, cold, or sweet foods, it could be a sign of early tooth decay. When tooth decay begins, the enamel begins to erode, allowing bacteria to form and multiply.
As bacteria grow, tooth sensitivity increases because it has a direct effect on the nerve endings beneath the enamel. This can cause the tooth to become very sensitive to temperatures, with hot or cold items causing discomfort.
Discoloration of the Tooth
If you notice white, brown, or black spots on your teeth, it could be a sign that the enamel is starting to break down. Discoloration can also be caused by other factors, such as consuming dark-colored foods or drinks or smoking, but it is always a good idea to have it checked by a dentist to rule out tooth decay.
Depending on the severity of the condition, your dentist may recommend a tooth decay treatment, including:
- Fluoride Treatments
- Dental Fillings
- Dental Crowns
- Root Canal Therapy
- Tooth Extractions
If you have tooth decay in its early stages, it’s important to consider these restorative dentistry options to prevent further damage and restore your dental health.
Bad Breath or Halitosis
As the bacteria eat away at the enamel, small holes or cavities begin to form. The bacteria that is lingering in the mouth gives off a bad odor which then causes bad breath or Halitosis.
This can then progress to further stages of tooth decay or gum disease if left untreated. If you have persistent bad breath, it is essential to have it checked by a dentist, as it could be a sign of an underlying dental problem.
Pain or Discomfort When Biting or Chewing
During the early stage tooth decay, the enamel of the tooth becomes weakened, and the bacteria in saliva can penetrate the enamel and begin to eat away at it. This causes the tooth to slowly break down, which can cause pain or discomfort when eating or drinking.
If you experience sharp pain or discomfort when eating or biting down, it could be a sign that the decay has progressed to the deeper layers of the tooth. People who experience any sort of pain or discomfort when biting or chewing should visit an experienced dentist for a checkup as soon as possible.
Pus or Swelling Around the Tooth
Pus or swelling around the tooth is usually caused by bacteria found in the mouth latching onto weak areas of the tooth due to a lack of proper oral hygiene. As the bacteria feed on sugars from food, they produce an acid that wears away enamel and causes holes or cavities.
As these cavities deepen, pus may form in the soft tissues around the tooth and result in swelling, pain, and potential infection. While cavities can commonly be seen on X-rays, the pus associated with it may not be seen without an abscess draining.
Gum recession occurs when the gum tissue near the tooth is pushed away due to plaque buildup, exposing more of the teeth and roots. Plaque buildup leads to tooth decay because plaque contains bacteria that produce acidic byproducts, which in turn break down the hard surface of the tooth enamel.
Gum recession allows for the bacteria to further infiltrate the tooth, leading to more extensive tooth decay. As soon as the signs of gum recession appear, immediate dental care is recommended.
Visible Holes or Pits
Visible holes or pits in the enamel of the tooth signal the presence of decay. These holes are not deep but rather have worn away the top layer of the tooth—the enamel. In the initial phase of tooth decay, these holes or pits may be hard to see but can often be identified by touch, especially when eating something hard.
If left untreated, the holes or pits can become bigger and deeper, leading to intense pain and tooth loss. As the decay progresses, it can create a cavity in the tooth, which can lead to pain, infection, and tooth loss if left untreated.
Cracked or Chipped Teeth
With weakened enamel, teeth may become vulnerable to damage; as a result, the teeth may start to crack or chip upon hard impact. Even minor damage, like a cracked tooth, can produce sharp pain, as well as inflammation and sensitivity.
Left untreated, cracks or chips in the teeth can easily lead to more extensive damage, such as further decay. As the cracks get bigger, the decay can start to spread to other parts of the tooth. Regular oral health check-ups and proper dental hygiene can help prevent tooth decay, as well as ease the pain caused by cracked or chipped teeth.
Understanding and Identifying the Early Stage Tooth Decay
Tooth decay can be prevented through good oral hygiene and regular visits to your dentist. If you can identify the early stage tooth decay, it can be treated quickly and effectively, so it is important to maintain a healthy dental routine.
Take the time to brush twice a day, floss once a day and make regular appointments with your dental care provider to keep your teeth healthy.
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