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Family's Campus -Children aged 7 or above - Oral Diseases - Process of tooth decay

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Process of tooth decay

Early tooth decay:

The decay usually starts from enamel. At this stage, you will not feel any pain or discomfort. Therefore it is difficult to notice the decay.The tooth surface may appear undamaged from naked eyes.

Photograph of the longitudinal section of a tooth crown showing initial decay.

Caries spreads into the dentine

Pain may be felt when eating cold, hot, sour, and sweet food. Cavity may also be found.

Animation of the longitudinal section of a tooth crown with decay started in enamel and then all the way to dentine leading to apparent cavity

Caries extends into the pulp

Severe pain may be felt that may affect sleep at night and may not be controlled by painkiller. An obvious cavity may appear on tooth. Pulp can also be infected by bacteria and the tooth becomes necrotic, , and even bacteria may spread from the root of a tooth to its surrounding tissue, resulting in formation of abscess.

Animation of the longitudinal section of a tooth crown showing that the decay starts from enamel and then all the way to the dentine leading to pulp infection and inflammation

What can we do?

Go to see a dentist immediately :
  • At an early stage of stooth decay caries without obvious cavitations, the dentist will apply topical fluoride to repair the early caries, or give other preventive treatments according to need.
  • Restore the tooth by a filling when the carious lesion is still small, and the tooth is still restorable.
  • Restore the tooth by a crown when the decay is relatively big, and the remaining tooth structure is weak.
  • Carry out pulp treatment (root canal treatment) when the decay has extended into the pulp.
  • Extraction is needed if decay filling or pulp treatment is not appropriate.
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