Have you noticed people turn their nose away when you speak to them? Are you finding spots that stain your otherwise “pearly whites?”
Whether it’s bad breath or yellowish/brownish stains, rotten teeth are at the root of it all.
But what do you need to know about rotten teeth so you can help preserve your dental health? There are many different ways your teeth can deteriorate, and today we’re going to take a detailed look at its signs and symptoms so you can find solutions that match your specific needs.
While the solutions we provide here may help manage tooth decay, we always recommend speaking to your dentist for advice that works best for you.
Let’s dive in!
What Causes Tooth Decay?
The very first thing you need to know about tooth decay is that it is the process by which plaque and tartar deteriorate your teeth. If you’re unfamiliar with plaque, it’s a clear, sticky film that coats your teeth, mostly because they are not being brushed properly.
Plaque can start to develop 4 to 12 hours after brushing. The bacteria it produces eats away at your tooth enamel, eventually leading to a variety of dental issues.
Eventually, the plaque on your teeth will lead to the development of tartar. Think of tartar as like a “shield” for plaque, making it nearly impossible to remove without a professional’s help. With both plaque and tartar forming on your teeth, you’re far more likely to develop experience swollen gums, an early symptom of gum disease.
As it progresses, you may start to experience periodontitis, which can pull your gums away from your teeth and possibly cause your teeth to loosen over time.
Your Tooth Deteriorates
As plaque sits on your teeth for an extended period of time, it erodes your enamel, allowing bacteria and acid to gain access to even more vulnerable layers inside your tooth. Underneath your enamel is another layer known as dentin, which is far more susceptible to deterioration caused by plaque. Once your dentin is compromised, the plaque will start to eat away at the “pulp,” a layer that contains your tooth’s blood vessels and nerves.
Neglect is often the main cause of tooth decay, but some other risk factors can include:
- The location of your teeth. Back teeth, like molars and premolars, are often missed during regular brushing routines, thus making them a hotspot for cavities.
- Snacking or drinking sugary products. These products introduce a range of different bacteria to your mouth, and the acidic properties of soda can contribute to tooth decay.
- Not having enough fluoride. Fluoride is a mineral that can be found in things like tap water (depending on where you live) and can help strengthen your teeth and possibly reverse the effects of tooth decay.
- Heartburn. When you have heartburn (gastroesophageal reflux disease), stomach acid can flow back into your mouth and eat away at your tooth enamel, opening the door for bacteria to create cavities.
- Old/worn filling or dental appliances. Taking care of your teeth is especially important if you have fillings or use dental appliances like braces. Over time, these areas can collect food particles and bacteria, which leads to the development of plaque and, eventually, cavities.
- Dry mouth. A lack of saliva can also lead to plaque since it can help wash away food particles resting on your teeth after eating.
Symptoms of Tooth Decay
In its earliest stages, you might not know you’re experiencing tooth decay. However, over time you can start to experience pain in your teeth or even chewing problems. As the symptoms worsen, you could experience:
- Severe pain that affects your chewing and eating habits.
- Puss or swelling around the teeth.
- Tooth loss.
- Tooth abscesses, which is a pocket of pus inside the tooth caused by a bacterial infection.
Effective Strategies for Preventing Tooth Decay
Without a doubt, the simplest and most effective strategy for preventing tooth decay is to ensure you’re brushing twice a day and flossing once a day. However, there still is a chance that you could miss plaque even if you brush your teeth regularly, so please ensure you are going for regular check-ups with your dentist.
Some other strategies can include:
- Using fluoride toothpaste or mouthwash.
- Going for fluoride treatments with your dentist.
- Avoiding sugary snacks and drinks.
- Eating fresh fruits and vegetables, drinking unsweetened drinks, or chewing sugar-free gum.
- Getting tooth sealants, especially on the back teeth to prevent cavities.
Your Dentist Can Help
Of course, every person is different and requires a different level of care. To make sure you’re using the right solutions for you, we recommend visiting your dentist.
However, if your teeth become too decayed, or the decay is too widespread, your teeth will likely need to be removed and replaced with either standard dentures or implant-supported dentures.
Dental implants can also support both complete and partial dentures. Implant-supported dentures can give you increased stability and do not need to be removed while eating. Dental implants fill the same role as your natural teeth’ roots, which means they also help you maintain bone density and facial structure.
For more information about dentures and our denture process, including information on implant-supported partial dentures and implant-supported complete dentures, please visit our website or schedule a consultation.