4 Stages of Tooth Decay & Treatment

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Four stages of tooth decay and restorative treatments

Tooth Decay & Treatment | 4 Stages 

Sierra Oaks Dental | Sacramento Dentist | General, Cosmetic, & Restorative Care

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Phone | (916) 481-2000


Preventative care is the most important part of anyone’s health.  This is especially true for dental care and oral health.  Whether it’s wearing sunscreen or practicing a healthy diet, there’s no way to place a value on disease prevention when compared to fighting an existing disease.  We’re going to cover the basics of the evolution of tooth decay. Keep in mind there will never be anything more affordable and feasible than proper preventative care.

Let’s start off with a little background on the topic – tooth decay is the breakdown of tooth enamel and dental tissue.  The cause of this is mainly acids in the mouth.  These acids mainly come from the bacteria in your mouth processing sugar into acids. Coffee, citrus, and other acidic foods and drinks are also detrimental even if they’re all-natural.  It’s important to limit these acids because tooth enamel is critical to the structure and life span of the tooth. The best way to combat tooth decay is proper and regular oral hygiene (routine brushing, flossing, and clinical hygiene visits). A healthy diet is also crucial to promoting proper oral health.  Check out our blog on the Top 3 Drinks For Promoting Oral Health to read more about what beverages you should be reaching for.

Sacramento Dentist - Acidic Drinks and preventive care for oral health


The first stage of tooth decay is a cavity, which is a hole in the tooth enamel.  Cavities require fillings to remedy the decay. Fillings are the second least expensive solution to tooth decay.  When fillings and tooth decay are caught early enough then a filling can be applied to the hole in the enamel.


dog with a crown but not the right kind of crown for dental restorations

Wait…. not that kind of crown.

If tooth decay is not able to be paired by a filling then a crown will be introduced.  When cavities become too large they require a solution to maintain tooth integrity, structure, and bite comfort.  The material used for a crown can vary depending on the patient’s needs. Some factors are the tooth’s location and function, the gum tissue, personal preference, the smile, and the shade of the natural tooth.

Crown Build Up

Once tooth decay exceeds the depth of needing a crown a lone then the doctor will have to do a crown build-up.  This requires the doctor to build up the core of your tooth under the crown to add integrity to the structure of the tooth.  If proper oral care is not practiced after a crown then further decay will occur which leads to this solution.

Root Canal

The last resort before an implantbridge, or denture is required is a root canal.  A root canal is needed when tooth decay has prevailed against the previous noted solutions and the core of the tooth is at risk.  The procedure requires the doctor to clean out the channels in the tooth where the pulp is. The doctor will clean all the way through the root of the tooth.  A fully developed tooth can survive without the pulp because the tooth continues to be nourished by the tissues surrounding it.  If tooth decay goes beyond being treatable with root canal therapy then the tooth will most likely have to be extracted.

Tooth Decay & Treatment | 4 Stages