How Tooth Decay Changes Over Time

Tooth decay is often a simple problem to address. For most people, treatment simply involves cleaning the cavity that has formed in the tooth’s structure and filling it to restore the tooth’s strength and integrity. However, for others, dealing with tooth decay can mean more extensive treatment, such as removing the tissues from within the tooth’s pulp and root canal to stop the infection from getting worse. In many cases, the biggest difference between minor and severe tooth decay is time. Tooth decay is progressive, and the level of damage it causes changes depending on how soon you address it.

The weakening of your tooth’s outer enamel

The outer layer of a healthy, natural tooth is called enamel, and it’s the main defense your teeth have against the oral bacteria that lead to tooth decay. Tooth enamel is made almost entirely of minerals, and it retains its strength by receiving a steady supply of these minerals from your teeth. However, tooth enamel can be weakened by the harmful acids and substances that certain oral bacteria produce. If these attacks occur often enough, they can weaken tooth enamel to the point where it can no longer successfully keep bacteria from the main part of your tooth structure.

The formation of a cavity in your dentin

The bulk of your tooth’s crown is made of a substance known as dentin, which is similar to the bone structure in the rest of your body. Though strong, dentin isn’t as durable or resilient as tooth enamel. When oral bacteria reach it, they can infect the tooth structure, leading to the formation of a cavity (or hole). A cavity is often treated in its mild to moderate stages with biocompatible tooth fillings. Often made from tooth-colored composite resin, modern fillings can be placed after the bacteria and infected tooth structure have been cleaned away from the cavity.

The infection of your tooth’s pulp and root canal

When tooth decay reaches its severe stage, it often infects the pulp chamber at the center of your tooth, which is connected to the root canal that travels from the tooth to your jawbone. Inside of the pulp and root canal, your tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and other soft tissues are highly vulnerable. If oral bacteria or tooth decay reach them, the condition can become immediately more severe, as well as the discomfort in your tooth. Treating severe, internal tooth decay can require root canal treatment, which involves removing the infected tissues and tooth structure from within the tooth’s pulp and root canal before sealing them with more durable, biocompatible material.

Treat your tooth decay as soon as possible

The longer it takes to treat tooth decay, the more severely it will affect your tooth structure and oral health. To learn more, schedule an appointment or initial consultation by calling Advanced Dental Concepts in Auburn Hills, MI, today at (248) 852-1820.