Treating the Stages of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is more common than you might think. Although cavities are commonly thought of as a children’s disease, over 90% of adults have had a cavity in their permanent teeth. That number doesn’t account for the other stages of tooth decay that require more or less treatment, depending on severity. To fight what some experts call a silent epidemic, your Southlake dentists, Dr. Wright and Dr. Heron, explain the various stages of tooth decay and necessary methods of treating them.

Mild Tooth Decay

Tooth decay occurs when bacteria in your mouth produce acid that attacks and erodes your tooth. If left untreated, this decay can cause tooth sensitivity, infection, and eventually tooth loss. At its earliest stages, the decay process forms small holes in your tooth enamel—the protective layer of minerals that covers your tooth’s crown. Bacteria accumulate in the small holes in the enamel, where they continue eating away your tooth’s defense. If detected early enough, mild decay can be reversed with an improved oral hygiene routine that will likely include fluoride toothpaste and topical fluoride treatments.

Treating a Developed Cavity

If decay has been allowed to progress into the structure of your tooth, then the decayed tissue must be removed to halt the progression of infection. If the infected area is not extensive, Dr. Wright or Dr. Heron will remove the infected tissue and replace it with a composite resin filling. Contrary to metal fillings, tooth-colored fillings can be bonded to the remaining tooth structure to support and strengthen it. To protect the treated tooth, you might also have a dental crown secured over it after the filling’s been placed.

If Worse Comes to Worst

If the infection reaches the center, or pulp, of your tooth, a root canal procedure may be required to remove the diseased nerves and tissues. If infection has severely damaged the root of your tooth, there’s a high probability that the tooth is beyond salvaging, and will need to be extracted. If this worst case scenario comes to pass, you will have to replace the tooth with a bridge or an implant to prevent remaining teeth from shifting towards the gap.


As a native Texan, Gregory Wright, DDS, opened his private practice in Southlake, TX in 1992. He and Dr. Victoria Heron are happily accepting new patients from Southlake, Grapevine, Keller, Trophy Club, Colleyville, and all surrounding communities. To learn more, call our office today at (817) 481-7999.