Tooth decay is one of the most common dental problems suffered worldwide. And many patients who have suffered from dental decay often don't understand how dental decay works. Because of this, patients often have questions concerning tooth decay. Understanding dental decay can help you to prevent it.

Here are five of the most common and important questions asked by dental patients.

1. What does early tooth decay look like?

Most people are aware that tooth decay reveals itself through discoloration on a tooth or even damage to a tooth. But there is an even earlier form of tooth decay that occurs. Demineralization is the first stage of tooth decay. At this stage, the decay may only present as a small white spot on the surface of a tooth. This is the stage where acids are eating away at the surface of the enamel.

Once the acids penetrate and create a cavity, then tooth decay sets in.

2. Can you reverse dental decay?

You can reverse early-stage dental decay, which is the demineralization stage mentioned in the previous answer. By improving your oral hygiene practices and reducing your intake of sugary and acidic foods, your body might have a chance to remineralize damaged enamel. Unfortunately, if a cavity forms and reaches the dentin layer, the decay is irreversible and restoration is necessary. 

3. Can tooth decay spread to other teeth?

Tooth decay itself doesn't spread to other teeth, because tooth decay is the result of bacteria and acidic compounds. However, the bacteria that create tooth decay can spread to adjacent teeth if a person has a poor level of oral hygiene.

4. Is tooth decay contagious?

Tooth decay is not contagious. However, some people have more of one type of oral bacteria than other people do. And these bacteria can spread through saliva. So if you have a large population of tooth decay-causing bacteria in your mouth then you could spread them to another person if you both share a drink.

5. Does tooth decay hurt?

Tooth decay does cause pain but only when it destroys enough of a tooth to reach the nerve or pulp in the middle of a tooth. Once the bacteria reach the nerve, pain signals will travel to the brain along the nerves.

The answers to these questions should help you to understand tooth decay more clearly. If you have any further questions, or you think you may have tooth decay, contact your local family dentist.