Healthy Tooth
1.Healthy tooth, no staining or discolouration. Normal reaction to hot and cold. Good ability to cope with normal chewing forces. No treatment needed.
Early Tooth Decay
2. Slight surface stain in the pits and fissures of the enamel. Normal reaction to hot and cold. Good ability to cope with normal chewing forces. Diet advice needed to encourage person to reduce frequency of sugar intake by modifying eating and drinking habits. Possibly a fissure sealant or fluoride resin application might help prevent decay progressing.
Enamel Tooth Decay
3. Stain almost through the enamel part of the tooth indicates the tooth has lost a considerable amount of enamel. Still no changes to sensitivity or chewing. Diet advice needed and possibly a small filling.
Dentine Tooth Decay
4. Stain through the enamel and spreads rapidly along the junction of the enamel and dentine. Still no surface cavity, but the tooth is now much weaker. Possible symptoms include increased hot and cold sensitivity and pain on chewing hard things. A filling is required to restore the tooth.
Cavity Tooth Decay
5. The outer layer of enamel collapses to reveal the soft area of tooth decay underneath. The tooth becomes more sensitive and normal chewing ability is much reduced. Food particles start to get trapped in the hole and the possibility of severe toothache begins. A deep filling is urgently required to restore the tooth. Even doing a filling at this stage cannot guarantee there will be no further pains.
Deep Tooth Decay
6. The advancing front of bacteria and toxins finally start to invade the pulp chamber of the tooth where the nerves and blood vessels reside. The blood flow into the tooth increases and the pressure around the nerves increases. This leads to the classic “toothache” which comes and goes, throbs and spreads to the side of the face.
Deep Tooth Decay
7. The bacteria cause the cells in the pulp to die and pus often results. The bacteria are still enclosed inside the root of the tooth. The pain is often similar to stage 6, although the tooth may also start to become tender on biting and the pain starts to localize around the tooth. To restore the tooth at stages 6 and 7 requires a root canal treatment followed by a large filling or crown.
Very Deep Tooth Decay
8. The infection spreads to the surrounding jaw bone and an abscess develops. The jaw becomes swollen and there is often severe pain on biting. Antibiotics are needed at this stage and may be followed by root filling or extraction of the tooth.
Decayed roots
9. If left unchecked the tooth decay can continue to rot the tooth and a chronic area of infection results. This is often less painful than stages 6,7 and 8, however there will be foul tastes and swellings and pus. The roots should be extracted at this stage. Replacement of the tooth may be possible with a denture, bridge or even an implant.

M.N.Preston B.D.S.
90A High Street
Canvey Island
Essex SS8 7SQ.
Tel 01268 683739
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Family Dental Practice