Early stage of tooth decay. Only the top level of the enamel is affected. During this stage, the
patient feels no pain. This is the best time to treat a cavity. If the enamel has not been
perforated, the dentist can treat the problem with fluoridated agents, with no need for
He or she may also recommend other measures to stop the decay and encourage remineralization of
tooth. This is the medical approach to dealing with caries, as opposed to the surgical approach,
When decay reaches the dentin (light brown), the tooth becomes sensitive to hot and cold. The
may feel intermittent pain. At this stage it is still early enough to treat the problem just
restoration (surgical approach).
When the decay attacks the dental pulp (pink), the pain becomes severe and persistent. The
has no choice but to have major restorative work and a root canal treatment, or the tooth will
to be extracted.
If the infection (dark brown) spreads to the entire dental pulp, the patient may experience an
abscess, a bacterial infection that causes acute, piercing pain. Antibiotics may have to be
prescribed before the dentist can treat the problem. As in the previous stage, the patient will
major restorative work and a root canal treatment, or have the tooth extracted.