How Does Tooth Decay Happen?

The process of tooth decay begins with plaque and bacteria building up on the tooth structure, typically due to inadequate brushing and flossing and a diet high in sugar. This bacteria excretes acid. Even though tooth enamel is the hardest substance in the body, it is highly vulnerable to acid erosion, so with enough bacteria excreting acid, you get the perfect environment for tooth decay.

Initially, tooth decay may only affect the outermost layer of the tooth. The longer it goes without treatment, especially if the same habits that encouraged tooth decay in the first place have not changed, the worse it gets.

What Happens When Tooth Decay Gets Worse?

Once the acid breaks through the outside layer of the enamel, it will reach the dentin, where it can move much faster because dentin isn’t as strong. If the decay extends all the way through the dentin, it will reach the pulp chamber where the vulnerable nerves and blood vessels are. At this point, the pulp becomes infected, which can be very painful and lead to other problems like dental abscesses.

Dr. McKissock Is an Expert in Treating Tooth Decay

Ideally, your general dentist will be able to catch tooth decay before it reaches these advanced stages and causes major issues, which is why regular dental exams are so important. If the tooth decay does reach the pulp and root of a tooth, that’s when it’s time for Dr. McKissock to step in. Give us a call at (719) 488-2188 or email us for more information.