Is Dentin Decay Reversible?

Is Dentin Decay Reversible?
Author: Espire Dental Posted: November 1st, 2023 Category:

Your teeth contain a second layer after enamel called dentin. So what happens when decay hits dentin?

When you look at your teeth, you’re seeing the strong outer covering known as enamel. But did you know your teeth consist of another layer called dentin, and it’s not visible to the naked eye? 

Teeth are made up of more than just the enamel. Each tooth contains three layers. Underneath the enamel is dentin, and beyond that is the inner pulp. Just like enamel and the pulp, dentin can become decayed. But can dentin decay be reversed? Unfortunately, not. We’ll explain why below.

What is dentin?

Cavities (caries) develop when bacteria in your mouth mix with sugars in the foods you consume and form an acid. The acid then burrows into the enamel, causing a hole or pit in the tooth. But the decay might not stop there. It can reach into the dentin, which is much softer than enamel.

While dentin may not be as durable as enamel, it’s vital for your tooth’s health. Dentin is what gives your tooth its color, and it also adds an extra layer of protection to the pulp where nerves and blood vessels reside. Dentin contains living tissue and tiny tubules that relay messages to the nerves in the tooth. That’s why when decay spreads through the enamel and into the dentin level, your teeth become highly sensitive to hot and cold. The nerves pick up on the extreme temperatures and send out pain signals. 

In addition to pain and sensitivity, dentin decay can lead to an infection in the pulp and possibly an abscess. At the earliest hints of pain and sensitivity, visit your dentist for treatment to stop the decay from spreading further into the tooth.

How dentin decay is treated

About 90 percent of adults between 20 and 64 have at least one cavity. If caught early enough, decay may be reversed with fluoride treatments to build up the enamel. However, if the decay expands into the dentin, the resulting cavity requires treatment from your dentist. 

Dentin decay is treated much like a cavity anywhere else in the tooth, which means you’ll have several treatment options, including:

Filling. This is the most common treatment for a cavity. A filling plugs the hole where the decay was with a tooth-colored material, such as resin, porcelain, or a combination of materials.

Crown. If the decay takes over most of your tooth, your dentist will fit your tooth with a natural-looking crown.

Root canal. Decay within the inner pulp is treated with a root canal that removes the bacterial infection and restores the tooth with a filling or crown.

Extraction. A tooth with extensive decay cannot be saved and may need to be extracted.

How to prevent dentin decay

All those treatments above can be avoided with simple preventative measures to reduce the chance of tooth decay. To keep your teeth healthy and free from dentin decay, try these tips:

Boost your fluoride intake. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste is one way to get more fluoride on your teeth. But there are others. Since municipal water supplies typically contain fluoride, drink tap water rather than bottled, which isn’t infused with fluoride.

Get fluoride treatments. Fluoride applied directly on the tooth by your dentist can prevent cavities.

Floss between teeth. Cavities occur most often on the tops of your teeth and between them. To reach between teeth, floss at least once a day.

Skip the sweets. Sugar promotes the growth of acids that cause cavities. Limit sugary snacks and beverages to an occasional indulgence, and when you do indulge, brush soon afterward.

Consider sealants. Ask your dentist about dental sealants brushed along the groves of the back teeth to protect against decay.

See your dentist regularly. Don’t wait until your tooth aches. Schedule regular, twice-yearly checkups for a cleaning and thorough exam. If decay is spotted early, your dentist can treat the cavity so it doesn’t spread to the dentin or into the pulp.

Get your teeth checked at Espire Dental

​​Schedule an appointment at Espire’s Oklahoma City, OK, location today! We’ve been in practice in Oklahoma City for more than 30 years. Our highly trained dentists can check your teeth for decay and start treatment. Don’t live near our Oklahoma City office? Find one of our other locations near you.

Oklahoma City, OK
12448 St Andrews Drive
Oklahoma City, OK 73120