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What Are the Stages of Tooth Decay?

Cartoon of a lady in the dental chair getting a dental exam.
Image by Authority Dental under CC 2.0

Tooth decay can affect kids, teenagers, and adults. While lifestyle choices play a big role in your risk for tooth decay, some people are at a higher risk because of their genetics! Cavities form in stages over time, so it’s important to visit Queensboro Plaza Dental Care regularly to get an early diagnosis. Here are the stages of tooth decay.


Plaque is a sticky substance constantly forming on your teeth. It’s made of bacteria that produce acid. The acid chews into your enamel, which is the hard outer layer of a tooth. During the first stage of a cavity, plaque starts to weaken your enamel. If we catch a cavity in this stage, better oral hygiene can often reverse the demineralization process.

Enamel Decay

If the demineralization process continues, the weakened tooth enamel breaks down. This creates tiny holes (cavities) in your teeth.

Dentin Decay

Tooth decay doesn’t stop with your enamel. If it’s not treated, it eats into the dentin layer. Dentin is soft and more sensitive, so you may feel discomfort or sharp, lingering pain when you eat or drink cold/hot foods and beverages.

Dental Pulp Infection

Tooth decay can spread deep into the nerve-filled pulp of your tooth. Cavities are usually very painful at this stage. To treat the bacterial infection and save the tooth, dentists often turn to root canals.

An Abscess

If you don’t seek treatment for tooth decay that’s reached the pulp of a tooth, you may get an abscess. An abscess is a pocket of pus that can form at the root of an infected tooth. If possible, we’ll perform a root canal, but tooth extraction may be the best choice for your health at this stage.

Preventing Tooth Decay at Queensboro Plaza Dental Care in Long Island City, NY

Cavities are common, but you can lower your risk by taking great care of your teeth at home and visiting our dentists for professional cleanings and exams! If you do get a cavity, we offer a variety of restorative treatments – like dental fillings and root canals – that address the different stages of tooth decay. Have more questions or want to schedule an appointment? Please contact us today!

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Patient Reviews

Karoline PammerKaroline Pammer
20:52 30 Mar 22
Dr. Nguyen and his staff are extremely competent, friendly and professional. He is very thorough and explains everything very clearly. Finally I feel like I am in good hands when it comes to dental care.
Matt SmithMatt Smith
21:18 05 Feb 22
Great overall experience getting a dental cleaning. Very friendly staff, beautifully designed office, and a comfortable experience watching calming Netflix nature programming while in the chair. Complimentary beverages are in the waiting room and so is a little play area for kids.It felt to me that this was a patient-focused family practice as opposed to a cold, corporate dental mill trying to churn through as many patients as possible.I’ll definitely be coming back here for all my dental needs and I highly recommend.
Sundup SherpaSundup Sherpa
22:07 02 Feb 22
Dr. Nguyen and his staff are very welcoming and they provide an excellent experience every time I visit. I’ve only been here twice for annual checkups but would definitely consider and recommend this place to anyone who appreciates good customer experience and a very thoughtful approach to making sure that you feel at home. I have some procedures set up for later in the month and I must actually be the only person in the world actually looking forward to a dentist appointment.
Jayrockem GottemJayrockem Gottem
21:27 09 Nov 21
Great place wonderful staff they will be my go too dentist 100%
shawaf alishawaf ali
22:08 26 Aug 21
Very confident after leaving the office that my teeth are in greatttt hands. Above and beyond patient care. Very informative visits. A sense that they genuinely care about patient concerns. Added helpful guidelines I took home with me to reach dental hygiene goals before my next visits. Highly recommended you leave your old scary dentist ! 😁😁
Queensboro Plaza Dental Care

Queensboro Plaza Dental Care