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Yakima, WA 98902
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Tooth Decay
Yakima, WA

A woman suffering from tooth decay about to be treated at Victor Immel, DMD, PS in Yakima, WAYour teeth are constantly under attack. Your mouth is a hotbed for germs, and they are simply waiting for their opportunity to strike. These bacteria, which are naturally occurring in your mouth, grow and multiply every time you eat (or drink anything that may have sugar in it). Failure to remove these bacteria can put your teeth at risk of tooth decay. Over time, if left untreated, this decay can progress. Your teeth may become at risk for serious damage and may need more intensive procedures like fillings to address the decay.

We here at Victor Immel, DMD, PS like to educate our patients not only about the dangers of advanced tooth decay but also inform them about their treatment options if they ever develop it. Regular cleanings and exams can do quite a bit to prevent and correct tooth decay.

The Six Different Stages of Tooth Decay

There are six known stages of tooth decay. The first stage can be detected by looking for white, chalky spots that form on the surface of your teeth. These spots are caused by your teeth, losing calcium and building up plaque, which can further de-mineralize your teeth and erode enamel. It’s important for have regular cleanings and exams to avoid such tooth decay and prevent the need for fillings. At the second stage, your enamel begins to break down, forming lesions that prevent your natural remineralization process. As your enamel weakens, your teeth may chip or break, although this is more common with the third stage, where dentin begins to decay and collapse. At this stage, you will experience more pain and the greater risk of forming cavities. The fourth stage involves your pulp, the nervous tissue, and odontoplasts (tooth cells) that forms the center of your tooth. If tooth decay reaches this stage, you can expect infections and inflammation. This infection and inflammation can eventually kill the blood vessels in your tooth. The pain you experience may become markedly more severe, and it can persist chronically. This can be quite unpleasant for the patient and result in the definite need of a filling. At stage five, the infection reaches the tip of the root, forming painful abscesses. Worse, they risk infecting the other bones and tissues in your mouth, particularly those in your jaw, gums, and tongue. This stage opens you up to other diseases, risks spreading the infection to other teeth, and can impact your speech. At the final stage, the tooth is completely dead, from pulp to enamel. You will likely still experience pain in the surrounding area, especially the gums and jaw. At this point, there is no real treatment option, only the full removal of the tooth.

Treatment for Advanced Tooth Decay

At the earliest stages, tooth decay can be prevented and mitigated with proper hygiene and regular cleanings and exams. If caught early, it can also be reversed. In the middle stages, you may need crowns or fillings for cavities. At the later stages, you may need root canals and more in-depth oral surgery to correct the damage. If you reach the final stage, the entire tooth may need an extraction, and additional treatment and care to avoid the disease spreading to other parts of your mouth.

While early-stage tooth decay can be reversed with regular cleanings and exams, advanced tooth decay always requires intervention from us. If you would like to learn more about advanced tooth decay, or you would like to schedule an appointment with us here at Victor Immel, DMD, PS, please give us a call at (509) 457-5387 today!