Tooth Decay Stages, Causes and Solutions

posted byMuse Dental GroupAugust 24, 2021

Certain foods can cause tooth decay. The longer these foods stay on the surface of the teeth, the more acidic the mouth, which results in tooth decay.

When this happens, tooth decay begins and damages tooth enamel. Bacteria in plaque can convert sugar present in food to acid. As plaque accumulates, these acids can begin to damage your teeth.

Therefore, good oral hygiene is essential to prevent tooth decay.

Knowing the different tooth decay stages and its causes is very important to get proper treatment. Let's get started to know the important things.

In this blog, we will discuss the following things:

What is Tooth Decay?

Tooth decay occurs when carbohydrate-rich foods like fruits, bread, milk, and candy stick to the surface of the teeth.

Bacteria in the mouth digest these foods and convert them into acids, which form plaque on the teeth.

Tooth Decay stages

There are various stages of tooth decay. Let's look at five different tooth decay stages.

Stage 1: Demineralization of Enamel

Enamel is a type of tissue that makes up the outer layer of the tooth. When teeth are exposed to plaque and bacterial acids, the enamel coating on the teeth begins to weaken.

White spots on teeth are obvious signs of enamel deterioration. It marks the beginning of tooth decay.

Stage 2: Decay of Enamel

Ignoring tooth decay will further degrade tooth enamel. Its symbol is that the white spots on the teeth turn dark brown.

When tooth enamel becomes weak, it forms holes in the tooth. These are cavities. To repair tooth decay, the dentist needs to fill it.

Stage 3: Decay of Dentin

Underneath the tooth enamel coating is a layer of tissue called dentin. Compared to enamel, dentin is a softer layer. It is susceptible to deterioration due to acid exposure.

The tooth decay process accelerates when decay is allowed until the damage reaches the dentin. Dentin also contains tubes that connect to the nerves of the teeth.

Therefore, the degeneration of the dentin can lead to dental hypersensitivity.

Stage 4: Damage to Pulp Layer

The innermost layer of the tooth is the pulp. It is an important blood vessel and nerve layer to keep teeth healthy.

Damage to the pulp layer can cause inflammation and swelling. This swelling put pressure on the nerves and may cause pain in the body.

Stage 5: Abscess

It is the last stage of tooth decay. When the pulp layer decays and begins to deteriorate, it will cause bacteria to invade and infect the teeth.

Inflammation of the tooth creates a pocket of pus at the root of the tooth. It is called an abscess.

The treatment significantly depends on the tooth decay stages. The dentist examines the stage and then start treatment accordingly.

What are the causes of Tooth Decay?

Understanding the causes of tooth decay is important in knowing the right way to take care of your teeth.

Tooth decay factors that need attention are:

Poor oral hygiene: Infrequent brushing can cause plaque build-up and erosion of tooth enamel.

Plaque formation: When not removed from time to time, plaque sticks to the teeth and builds up over time. In the presence of sugar, plaque creates acid, which erodes tooth enamel and eventually leads to tooth holes, also called cavities.

Plaque bacteria and acid: Most people do not like to think about them, but bacteria naturally exist in the mouth and teeth. When these bacteria digest carbohydrates left in the mouth, acids are formed, which cause cavities.

Food and drinks: We all have to eat and drink to survive, so there is no way to avoid it. But it plays an important role in the formation of tooth decay. Foods that stick to the teeth can increase the risk of tooth decay. Brush your teeth regularly, especially after drinking soda with milk or sugar or after eating dry fruits.

Dry mouth:Saliva helps remove plaque and buffer acid. If your mouth is dry and your saliva is low, plaque and bacteria can build up faster, causing tooth decay.

Medical Problems: Some types of cancer treatments that expose the head and neck to radiation can promote a tooth cavity by changing the makeup of the saliva to promote increased bacterial growth.

Treatments for Tooth Decay

Treatment of tooth decay relies on how advanced it is. So, let's discuss various treatments based on the stage of tooth decay.

Early-stage tooth decay

The early stage of tooth decay is before the cavity (hole) forms on the teeth. You can restore it in the following ways:

  • Reduce the intake and frequency of sweet drinks and foods
  • Brush your teeth with toothpaste at least twice a day
  • The dentist can apply a fluoride gel to the affected tooth.
  • Fluoride protects teeth by strengthening enamel and increases the acid resistance of plaque, which causes tooth decay.

Treatments for holes in teeth

If there is a hole in the tooth, treatment includes:

Fillings or crowns: This includes removing cavities, filling holes, or covering teeth to stop tooth decay.

Root canal treatment: It may be necessary to remove cavities that have spread to the centre of the tooth where the nerves and blood (pulp) is located

Remove all or part of the tooth: This is usually recommended when the tooth is severely damaged and irreversible. Dentists may replace teeth with removable partial dentures, bridges, or implants.


Tooth decay is a common disease, with 9 out of 10 adults over the age of 20 suffering from some degree of tooth decay.

It can be of varying severity, and you can use a variety of appropriate treatments. People with symptoms of tooth decay should contact their dentist.

Left untreated, tooth decay can lead to tooth loss and more severe conditions.

Are you looking for dental treatment in Los Angeles for your tooth hurt? Then Muse Dental Group must be your first choice.

Muse Dental Group brings you general and cosmetic dentistry .

We offer our patients all sorts of dental treatment options to make sure that they have everything they could ask for, all under one roof.

Visit our services page to know more about our services.

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