5 Different Types Of Tooth Decay and Their Characteristics

Taking care of our teeth is important for many reasons, including personal appearance, self-esteem and oral health. Tooth decay damages the tooth’s surface, where bacteria attack the enamel. While our mouths are full of bacteria, not all are healthy, and some play a role in tooth decay.

Are you noticing irregularity, pain or sensitivity in your teeth? This shouldn’t be ignored because not dealing with it will only lead to more problems. You should visit a family dentist Mississauga to treat tooth decay as soon as possible.

Wondering what is going on with your teeth? Let’s look at the types of tooth decay you can have.

Type #1: Demineralization

Demineralization is considered the first stage of tooth decay. Your teeth have a hard tissue outer layer called enamel, and when exposed to the acids in plaque, it starts to wear away the minerals in it. You will see white spots appear on your teeth from mineral loss.

Type #2: Decaying Enamel

As this process continues, enamel gets broken down further until the teeth become brown and holes or dental caries start forming. Your dentist should fill in these cavities.

Type #3: Decaying Dentin

Another part of your tooth structure is dentin. This layer is between the enamel and the pulp cavity, protecting the pulp, nerves, and blood vessels. When tooth decay reaches this level, it proceeds at a fast rate. This is when you start to feel increased sensitivity and pain from hot and cold drinks because of tubes that lead to the nerves.

Type #4: Damaged Pulp

The innermost layer of the tooth is the pulp, which contains the nerve and blood vessels. It also supplies nutrients to the tooth and protects it from dangers like:

  • Extreme temperatures
  • Cavities
  • Trauma

If there is damage to the pulp, irritation and swelling occur, causing pressure on the nerves and increased pain.

Type #5: Abscess

This is the final stage of tooth decay and the most problematic. The pulp starts to break down as bacteria multiply in the chamber, and infection occurs. This leads to inflammation, where pus pockets form at the tooth’s base.

An abscess causes severe pain that can be felt in the jawbone with swelling of the gums, face and jaw. You may also develop swollen lymph nodes in your neck. As the infection continues to spread, it can reach the jaw bones, head and neck. Teeth reaching this point may have to be extracted.

Type #6: Early Tooth Decay

There are telltale signs that you may have early tooth decay.


This presents as extreme pain if the dentin is exposed to the tooth. Hot and cold drinks trigger discomfort, usually only on one tooth.

Swollen Gums

Swollen gums are another sign that you have tooth decay. If there is a cavity with an infected tooth, the nearby gums can be affected, and the tissues may bleed or swell.


Sometimes, there will be a dull pain that is always there, but when you chew on something, it will suddenly be sharp.

Bad Breath and Foul Taste

When there is a decaying tooth, bacteria leaves behind biofilm waste as it consumes sugar. Halitosis is one of the most common indications of decayed teeth.

How to Prevent Tooth Decay

Fortunately, there are ways to resist early tooth decay. Here are some simple routines you can incorporate into your life that will take care of those chompers:

Brush Twice a Day

Start a routine of brushing first thing in the morning when you get up and last thing at night before going to bed.

Use Fluoride

This mineral prevents tooth decay and even reverses early signs. You can get it in your toothpaste, mouthwash or in the tap water you drink.

Regular Dental Checkups

Seeing your dentist twice a year will prevent advanced tooth decay. They take x-rays, clean your teeth, monitor decay and fill cavities when needed. They will also take care of advanced tooth decay with different options.

Eat Better Foods

Foods that are high in sugar promote bacteria growth on your teeth, which leads to tooth decay. Choose healthier options when possible and limit your snacking. This includes sugary drinks as well.

Say No to Tobacco

Tobacco is horrible for your health and your teeth. If you don’t smoke, don’t start and if you do smoke, quit. Your whole body will thank you.

Change Your Old Toothbrush

A toothbrush is a valuable tool with a shelf life. Change it out every three months because it wears and softens, limiting its usefulness and is a breeding ground for bacteria.

Understanding the kinds of tooth decay empowers you to do something about it. You need your teeth for your entire life, so take good care of them and look for any signs of tooth decay. Those pearly whites will thank you with a big smile.