Stages of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is a non infectious disease where part of the teeth structure start to rot, soften and crumbles.  The outermost layer of our teeth, the enamel, is harder than human bones.  What could we be putting our teeth through that could cause something as hard as that to decay?


The three layers of a tooth consist of enamel, dentine and the pulp.  Each of these layers have different characteristic and hardness and all three layers work in synergy for it to function well.  Imagine a hard shell with suspension to cushion shocks from chewing.  While it has a hard, white and cold exterior, it does have a soft and sensitive vital centre.  Enamel gives the ivory a translucent and white glow, while the underlying dentine gives a yellow hue.  The soft core consists of blood vessel and nerve, nourishing and enabling pain sensation respectively.

The earliest sign of decay is presented as white mottling on enamel surface.  Exposures to persistent acidic attack slowly remove minerals causing enamel to lose its glow and became porous, off-white spots.  Porosity allows foodstuff to stain ‘early enamel lesion’ brown.  Because this initial lesion is not exactly a hole yet, dentist may not proceed to drill and do a filling, if he deemed the patient has low caries risk.  If patient can clean the area well, the lesion will not progress to become a hole.

Once the acid producing germs in our mouth successfully tunneled enamel and reached the dentinal layer, the feast would begin.  Begin dentine is softer and consist of a more organic compound, dentinal decay provide easy food for the germs.  As decay progress towards pulp, pain and sensitivity will be more prominent.  Root canal treatment is usually started if the nerve chamber has been compromised.

Having a sweet tooth and lack of good oral hygiene cause ‘hole’ in teeth.  How then can we practice good oral hygiene and avoid taking sweets food?

Here are three simple tips to help you keep smiling.

  1. Brushing twice a day using soft toothbrush.  The plaque that we want to remove is soft and sticky.  So there is no need for hard brushing left we brush away gum and tooth tissue.
  2. Visit the dentist twice a year, although this need is different between every one depending on your risk profile.  Routine check up and cleaning is like servicing your car.  Daily brushing usually may not remove all plaque.  Scaling will remove hardened tartar around the gum line so you can brush better at home.
  3. Drink more clear water or rinse so less sweet substance linger inside your mouth.  Foodstuff like bread, biscuits and confectionary are processed food usually with a lot of sugar.