As one of the primary causes of tooth pain, tooth decay usually occurs in stages. It normally starts when the enamel is affected and then progresses until an abscess is formed.
The five stages of tooth decay are:
First Stage: White Spots
Symptoms at this stage include chalky white areas on the tooth’s surface and signs of strain. They occur as a result of plaque build-up, calcium deficiency, and acid attacks. Demineralization and acid build-up will destroy the surface of the tooth, kick-starting the process of decay.
Second Stage: Enamel Decay
The enamel will start to break away, causing lesions. This process is not reversible and it’s important to seek immediate dental attention.
Third Stage: Dentin Decay
In case you don’t seek dental attention at stage two, then dentin decay will happen. The acid buildup and bacteria will accelerate the erosion of the enamel. Note that the lesions may also reach the dentin. The level of pain experienced at this level is usually intense, especially if there is a cavity. Seeking dental attention at this stage means that the dentist will recommend filling in order to restore the tooth.
Fourth Stage: Pulp Decay
Pulp decay means that you are almost reaching the last stage. The bacteria has now spread inside the soft tissues of your tooth, therefore affecting the pulp. Pulp decay is extremely painful and causes significant pain. This is because it affects the connective tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. At this stage, the dentist will have to perform a root canal.
Fifth Stage: Formation of Abscess
In case all the above-mentioned stages of decay are not handled, your tooth will eventually form an abscess. It’s usually very painful and you will feel an intense and throbbing pain in your jaw, gums, and tooth. This type of pain gets worse when you lie down. You might also experience other symptoms such as an unpleasant mouth taste and fever. At this stage, the dentist can either perform a root canal or do tooth extraction.