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Methuen, MA 01844
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Windham, NH 03087

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The Journey to a Major Dental Problem

Family Dentist Services Methuen, MA Usually, situations in life do not jump from zero to mach-20 in an instant. Tooth decay is a prime example. While a lot of people do express surprise to the dentist when a severe toothache has developed overnight, the majority of situations related to tooth pain develop gradually. There is actually a process of decay that occurs in every case of tooth pain. Knowing what the individual steps are, how they may feel, and what can be done at that point to stop the process, empowers each of us to act on our own behalf. As a family dentist to individuals from Methuen and Windham, patient-empowerment is what we want!

How Tooth Decay Spreads

  • Initial demineralization. Tooth enamel relies on mineral-content in order to stay as resilient as necessary to bite and chew. The initial onset of decay occurs when minerals are depleted from enamel, which happens when there is too much acidity in a localized spot, usually the result of plaque. When demineralization occurs, slight sensitivity to hot and cold may develop. This may resolve with a standard professional cleaning, or may require the added protection of topical fluoride or dental sealants.
  • The cavity. A cavity occurs when the localized area of demineralization worsens into a small divot, or gouge in the softened surface of enamel. The worse the gouge becomes, the more sensitivity may occur. In addition to hot and cold, a tooth may react to certain foods, as well. The sooner this small area of decay can be removed and filled with a tooth-colored composite filling, the better.
  • Decayed dentin. There are several good reasons to have a cavity treated as quickly as possible. When decay penetrates the thickness of the hard outer shell of enamel, it meets much softer, more vulnerable dentin. Due to the softness of dentin, and its many tubules, bacteria are able to make their way more quickly through this matter and toward the center of the tooth. There is more extensive removal of material necessary when dentin decays, and a dental crown may be needed to restore optimal structure to the tooth.
  • Pulp infection. Can we just say . . ? You don’t want bacteria to invade the centermost part of your tooth. The pulp chamber is where the vessels and nerves and root of the tooth live. Here, right in the presence of nerves, inflammation will be difficult to ignore. This is usually when that severe toothache strikes by surprise. Pulp infection is typically treated with root canal therapy, and the tooth is restored with a dental crown.

Why wait for dental pain to tell you it’s time to see the dentist? Contact Kalil Dental Associates today.