A rotten tooth can be caused by several things. The main ones are poor dental hygiene, an injury or infection, but how do you know if you have a rotten tooth? There are some obvious signs, and in this post, we’ll share them and everything else you need to know about rotten teeth and how to treat them.
What is a rotten tooth?
A rotten tooth is simply a description of a severely decayed tooth. This is when the outer enamel layer of a tooth is destroyed by the bacteria and acid in plaque. Typically, a rotten tooth will start as a cavity that progressively gets worse over time. The plaque can penetrate into the softer part of the tooth, the dentin and then the centre section of the tooth, the pulp. If it reaches the pulp, this can cause debilitating pain and the infection can spread to other areas of the body if not treated promptly. Unless the person is having regular dental visits, it can go unnoticed for some time until the damage has worsened and symptoms start occurring.
What can cause a rotten tooth?
A rotten tooth doesn’t happen quickly, a tooth will slowly decay and a hole will eventually form. This damage is permanent. There are several causes of a rotten tooth, and they are:
- Poor dental hygiene. Plaque contains bacteria and acid and this eats away at the enamel on the surface of the teeth.
- Eating acidic, sugary or starchy foods.
- Trauma has caused a hole in the surface of the tooth.
How common are rotten teeth?
Tooth decay is a common problem amongst people of all ages and more so in children, teenagers and the elderly. The issue is most people don’t realise that they have early signs of decay and only seek treatment when the tooth is extensively damaged.
How to avoid a rotten tooth
The best ways to prevent a rotten tooth are by maintaining good oral hygiene, avoiding sugary and acidic foods, and by seeing your dentist for regular checkups. Rotten teeth are entirely avoidable. By seeking treatment early on, you can avoid this often painful issue from occurring on your teeth.
Why it’s so important to avoid rotten teeth?
Leaving rotten teeth can cause serious health conditions, not to mention they are painful and you may require time off work as a result.
Signs of a rotten tooth
There are some obvious signs of a rotten tooth however, some are not so obvious. Here are some of the most common and not-so-common signs that you may have a rotten tooth:
Pain is the number one sign of a problem. This pain can either present as a stabbing, occasional pain or a constant ache that gets worse over time.
- Tooth sensitivity
Tooth sensitivity is another common symptom of a rotten tooth. This can be pain or tenderness when consuming cold, hot or sweet foods or drinks.
- Bad taste in your mouth
If you have a bad taste in your mouth despite brushing your teeth, you may have a rotten tooth. The bacteria has access to food and limited oxygen which can cause a bad taste in your mouth.
- Bad breath
Bad breath can be a sign of a rotten tooth. Food can get trapped in the crevices and holes of a rotten tooth and can rot, causing bad breath.
- Swollen gums
Once the decay has progressed, it’s not uncommon for sufferers to have swollen and inflamed gums. These can be painful and red, typically around the site of the rotten tooth.
Areas of black, grey or brown should always be looked at by a dentist to treat the tooth and prevent the decaying from progressing.
- Trembling Hands
Rotten teeth can impact the immune system, and this can show up as signs of weakness in the body, such as trembling hands.
Rotten teeth deplete the body of energy, and fatigue and lack of energy are common signs of tooth decay.
- Blood poisoning
Blood poisoning doesn’t happen straight away, it occurs when rotten teeth have not been treated promptly. The infection from the tooth seeps into the bloodstream and causes blood poisoning as a result. Signs of blood poisoning include a rapid heart rate, fever and breathing difficulties. This is a serious condition that requires immediate medical intervention. If you believe you may have a rotten tooth, it’s always better to see a dentist sooner rather than later.
- Gum Disease
Over time rotten teeth can cause gum disease. The infection from the tooth can spread to the gum.
Will a rotten tooth heal itself over time?
No, tooth decay is irreversible and your tooth cannot heal itself. If you have a rotten tooth, you should see a dentist to prevent it from progressing. Leaving it will only see the damage worsen.
Treatment for a rotten tooth
The treatment for a rotten tooth depends on the stage of tooth decay. If it is in the early stages, it can be treated by placing fillings in the cavities. If the decay has gone further than this and has entered the pulp area, a root canal may need to be performed to save the tooth. Another treatment option for large cavities is crowns. If the tooth is beyond repair, it will more than likely have to be extracted. If this is the case and it’s a front tooth, your dentist can install a dental implant or create a dental bridge to replace the lost tooth if this is something you are interested in.
Prevention is key to avoiding rotting teeth
We hope this post has given you an idea of what a rotten tooth is, how it’s caused, the symptoms and available treatments. The best way to prevent your teeth from decaying is by seeing a dentist regularly and by performing proper oral hygiene. Ensure you are brushing your teeth twice a day and flossing properly. By doing this, you can maintain your natural teeth for life. Chat to your local Gold Coast Dentist today to answer any questions you may have about rotten teeth.