Tooth decay is an unpleasant condition that deprives you of a beautiful smile and a healthy lifestyle. It affects a child’s growth and can cause severe pain and infection. If not attended to immediately, tooth decay can affect the child’s speech, jaw development, and overall health.

However, the good news is that tooth decay does not just deteriorate; it happens in stages and can be avoided by taking necessary preventive measures. This article will discuss the stages of tooth decay and preventive measures.

What is Tooth Decay

A decayed tooth, also known as a cavity, is an area that leads to tiny holes in the teeth. It occurs when bacteria come in contact with sugar to form acid in the tooth. The acid formed erodes the enamel; this puts children at a higher risk of tooth decay since they have soft and thin enamel.

Stages of Tooth Decay

Tooth decay occurs in stages, and you can prevent it from getting to the next stage if treated immediately. The following are the five stages of tooth decay:

  • Initial Demineralization

Initial demineralization is the first stage of tooth decay; it occurs when the enamel loses its minerals. The enamel is the outer layer of your teeth, composed of minerals. These minerals are lost as the tooth comes in contact with acids from plaque bacteria. Demineralization becomes more evident when a white spot appears on the tooth.

  • Enamel Decay

If left untreated, demineralization moves to enamel decay. At this stage, the initial white spot begins to turn brown, indicating the enamel breakdown. As a result of the breakdown, the enamel becomes weak, making room for tiny holes (cavities) in the teeth. 

  • Dentin Decay

Tooth decay becomes faster once it gets to the dentin. The dentin has softer tissues than the enamel; hence, it reacts faster to the damage from acid. Because dentin is connected to the tooth nerves, your child may become sensitive when taking cold or hot meals.

  • Pulp Damage

Once the enamel and dentin have been affected, the pulp becomes open to bacterial infection and may begin to swell. The swelling causes infection, pressure, and severe pain. Your child may experience fever, bad breath, bad taste, or swollen lymph nodes at this stage.

  • Abscess

The presence of an abscess (a pocket of pus) indicates advanced tooth decay. At this stage, bacteria infection of the pulp leads to an increased tooth inflammation, causing the formation of a pocket of pus at the tooth root.

Prevention of Tooth Decay in Children

  • Maintain a good feeding habit

Every child loves to consume sugary foods; it is however your duty to limit your child’s sugar intake. Stay away from fruit juice and other drinks with high sugar content.

  • Regular teeth cleaning

Teeth cleaning can be a big deal with children, but it prevents bacterial infection in the teeth. Consult your dentist for the right toothpaste to use, and ensure you brush their teeth twice daily.

  • Use sealants

Sealants are thin plastic coatings that act as a covering for the molars. Using a sealant prevents food particles from penetrating the molar.

  • Regular dental check

Regular dental check helps to detect and prevent early signs of tooth decay. At two years of age, your child is eligible for a dental check; your dentist will tell you how often you should do this.


Tooth decay can be treated at any stage, but it’s better to prevent than cure. Ensure you work with your dentist to save your child from tooth decay.