The Five Stages of Tooth Decay By Dr. David Wyse on August 17, 2017

Teeth reflecting the four stages of tooth decayDo your teeth feel sensitive after drinking a hot or cold beverage? If so, you may be dealing with one of the initial stages of tooth decay. Removing harmful bacteria before it develops into something more serious can help prevent tooth loss and costly tooth replacement solutions.

Our doctors at Chrisman & Wyse Cosmetic & General Dentistry in Bloomington, IL provide routine examinations to help patients maintain their healthy smiles. They also educate patients on the five stages of tooth decay and their symptoms. In cases in which a patient’s tooth has been damaged as a result of decay, they can repair it with one of our restorative treatments.


During this stage, white or light brown spots begin to develop on the surface of the tooth. This usually occurs on teeth in the back of the mouth. Because of the location and shape of these teeth, food can get easily trapped within the cusps of teeth. As food remains, it develops into harmful bacteria. The longer this bacteria remains on teeth, the more likely that demineralization will occur.

Although you may experience some dental sensitivity at this stage, side effects are generally minimal. The tooth can be remineralized and strengthened with a deeper dental cleaning, fluoride treatment, and dental sealants.

Enamel Decay

Although enamel is one of the strongest substances in the body, it is susceptible to damage. As bacteria linger on teeth, they will begin to erode the enamel, causing small holes, known as cavities. During this stage, you may feel even more dental sensitivity or have difficulty chewing on the affected side of your mouth. Our doctors offer tooth-colored fillings with composite resin to repair cavities.

Dentin Decay

The layer directly under the enamel is known as dentin. If enamel decay is left untreated, the cavity will continue to widen and deepen, causing more surface damage to the tooth. At this stage, patients generally experience stronger symptoms, such as intensified sensitivity and tooth pain, making simple tasks, such as biting and chewing uncomfortable. Although a tooth-colored filling can often repair a tooth at this stage, more aggressive treatments, such as a dental crown may be necessary.

Pulp Decay

Once bacteria penetrate the inner chamber of the tooth, the roots have been compromised. The pulp chamber also houses your nerves. Most patients experience severe, persistent pain that can radiate to different areas of the face and jaw. Conservative treatments include root canal therapy and a crown to protect and strengthen the tooth. In some cases a tooth extraction may be necessary.

Abscess Growth

Once an abscess develops, the tooth is no longer functional and it can place surrounding teeth and gums in danger of further decay and gum disease. Symptoms at this stage are debilitating and the tooth may need to be extracted.

Do You Have Tooth Pain?

If you are suffering from dental sensitivity or a toothache, it’s important that you visit our office immediately. Our doctors will be able to determine the extent of damage using X-ray technology and provide relief through a restorative treatment. Your oral health plays a key role into your overall health. When tooth decay and gum disease are left unaddressed, they can result in serious dental complications. They have even been linked to diabetes and high blood pressure. Keep your pearly whites healthy with routine cleanings and exams. Contact our office today online or call (309) 663-6393 to schedule your consultation.

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Wyse Family & Cosmetic Dentistry staff

Wyse Family & Cosmetic Dentistry

Wyse Family & Cosmetic Dentistry has been serving the community in Bloomington, IL, for 100 years, making us the oldest practice in town. We are constantly updating our practice with the latest technology and innovative techniques to provide first-rate dentistry for our valued patients. Our comprehensive services include

  • Emergency Dental Care
  • Cosmetic Dentistry
  • Dental Implants
  • Pediatric Dentistry 

Schedule an appointment today by filling out our online form, or by calling (309) 663-6393.

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"I love my 'new teeth'. I feel so much better about my smile. The staff at Dr. Wyse's office was very friendly and professional. I would recommend them to anyone looking for excellent dental care."

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