Progression of Caries
Take care of you tooth before it needs help.

Progression of Caries

In this article we will visit the 5 stages of dental caries.

Progression of caries takes place in these 5 stages. Let's have a look at these and the treatment available for the same.

  1. Incipient caries:

This happens when the tooth starts releasing calcium and phosphate to compensate for the drop in pH. Due to this,the tooth starts looking chalky white. We call it chalky white spots/lesions.

The good news is these lesions are totally reversible with fluoride application; either by using fluoridated toothpaste or topical application of fluoride by a dentist and modifying the diet.

  1. Pit and fissure caries:

When the chalky white lesions are neglected, then, they start developing into a cavity

( a yellowish brown or grey spot/line). It especially is seen in the grooves and fissures of the chewing surfaces of teeth.

These cavities are in the enamel. And hence, filling them is painless and since not much of the tooth structure is destroyed the fillings are long lasting.

  1. Cavity:

A full fledged cavity starts developing when you neglect these pit and fissure discolouration. Enamel being the hardest substance in the body, it might take time for the bacteria to reach dentin. But as soon as it reaches dentin, it starts spreading like wildfire. You start feeling the sensitivity in the tooth and may experience food lodgement.

The blackish brown cavity will need immediate filling to prevent further progression. You might need anesthesia to numb the tooth while getting the filling done.

  1. Pulpitis:

When you neglect 'tooth sensitivity', then the cavity keeps progressing towards the center of the tooth and reaches the pulp. The pulp then becomes inflamed and this is when the tooth starts aching and giving you sleepless nights.

You should visit your dentist as soon as possible. Your dentist will prescribe you medicines as well as start with a reparative procedure for the pulp (pulp capping) or do a root canal treatment if the pulp is badly involved. All this is done under anesthesia.

  1. Abscess:

It's important to note that when the pulp is alive; is when your tooth starts hurting. It's your body's reaction to fight the bacterial invasion. But if intervention is not done on time; the bacteria invades the pulp and the pulp becomes dead,painless and infected. This infection then slowly progresses downwards in the roots towards the bone.

You then develop an abscess in your gums( a small boil ). As the infection increases, this abscess will rupture and discharge pus and form a sinus tract (a channel from the bone to outside) and the tooth might start shaking.

If you reach the dentist on time, a root canal therapy will ensure that the tooth is saved and no abscess is formed/drained. Further delay might only result in loss of tooth by extraction.

Please note:

If you still neglect the tooth when it starts shaking or the abscess is draining then there are chances of the bone getting infected or the infection spreading to the face. So, timely intervention is the key to healthy teeth.

With this we end our series on caries. Feel free to ask us your queries on the same.

We will be talking about Brushing and Flossing next time….stay tuned.


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