Everyone wants to smile. So maintaining oral health is not only a necessity but a basic need. Since the mouth is an important part that allows entry to different bacteria and pathogens, oral health and hygiene are crucial. However, according to a CDC research report, 25.9% of adults aged 20-44 and 13.2% of children aged 5-19 are not taking treatments for dental caries. As a result, millions of people are suffering from tooth decay and other oral health problems. So, In this article, you will learn what health problems decayed teeth cause and how to stop such issues from growing and worsening the spread.
What is tooth decay?
Decayed tooth refers to damaged tooth either through cavities or abscesses that can lead to painful circumstances and even tooth loss. The damage can be either to the tooth surface or to the enamel- the latter is when the bacteria residing in the mouth release acid that eventually attacks your enamel. The decay can be caused by various habits or misuses, such as frequent snacking, drinking sugary beverages, or lack of dental cleanliness.
Cavities are permanent damages in the form of tiny holes on the hard surface of the tooth. When left untreated, these spread through deeper layers of your teeth, causing infection, toothache, and eventually tooth loss. Remember, tooth decay and cavities have no age bar. They can occur in children, infants, adults, teens, and senior adults too.
What does cause tooth decay?
The common outcome of tooth decay is cavities. Any of the following reasons could cause your decay-
- Frequent snacking/sipping: These invite more and more bacteria, which produces more and more acid than degrades the teeth.
- Diet– Often, food like chocolates, cakes, sweets, cookies, candies, chips, etc., are more likely to cause decayed teeth than those easily washed away by saliva.
- Tooth location: Mostly, molars and premolars are subjected to tooth decay because of their grooves, pits, and uneven surface that collects food particles. Washing and cleaning those is tricky.
- Lack of fluoride: Fluoride helps prevent the early stages of decayed teeth and also aids in preventing cavities. It is a major constituent in toothpaste, public water supplies, and mouthwashes. Lack of the same can be a factor in cavities and tooth damage.
- Dry mouth: Sometimes, medicines such as antidepressants, diuretics, and painkillers reduce saliva flow. Biologically, saliva is known to wash away most bacteria in the mouth and contributes to 30% of your digestion. A dry mouth can rather contribute to tooth decay and plaque formation.
- Lack of oral hygiene– Inadequate brushing, flossing, and rinsing your mouth on a regular basis can increase the probability of bacteria’s sustenance, thus, causing tooth decay and plaque formation.
- Dental fillings– Over the years, fillings and dental devices may wear off, which allows the plaque to grow underneath them.
- Stomach acid: Common ailments such as heartburn and gastritis increase your stomach acid’s chances to flow to your mouth thus, creating an environment for the bacteria to grow and sustain, causing plaque and eventually decayed teeth.
Health problems caused by tooth decay
Decayed teeth can cause the following health problems:
- Toothache, especially while eating
- Bad breath
- Swollen, red gums
- Tooth abscess
- Broken teeth
- Swelling of jaw and neck glands too
- Pus around a tooth
- Chewing issues
- Tooth loss
- Shifting of tooth positioning
Since oral hygiene is an essential part of your overall health condition, you must not take it for granted. A tooth infection can even spread to your brain through the nerve endings and blood vessels, leading to a brain abscess. It can also spread to your sinuses, causing sinusitis infection. It spreads to the lungs, too, sometimes.
Below are some diseases and conditions that can occur due to decayed teeth and sickened oral health:
- Breathing disorders: If you are suffering from oral issues, there is a great chance that your breath carries numerous bacteria from possible decayed teeth and gum infections. Over a while, these bacteria can cause respiratory tract and pulmonary diseases, such as COPD too.
- Pneumonia: Lung diseases, such as Pneumonia and Bronchitis, are common ailments that can be caused by bacterias that are pulled from the mouth into your lungs.
- Birth complications: Many pregnant women suffer from birth complications due to improper oral health. One such instance is Periodontitis, linked to premature birth and low birth weight.
- Endocarditis: It is an infection that infects the endocardium. It is the innermost layer of the heart. Germs and bacteria travel from different parts of the body, such as the mouth, spread through the blood vessels, and attach themselves to certain parts of the heart.
Other conditions such as cardiovascular diseases, rheumatoid arthritis, and Sjogren’s syndrome cause dry mouth, resulting in oral health disorders.
Some health conditions affect oral health conditions, too- Diabetes, HIV/AIDS, Osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s, and certain types of cancer puts your gum and teeth at risk, thus, leading to periodontal bone and tooth loss.
See Also: How long do dental implants last?
How does tooth decay develop?
Plaque refers to a white sticky residue on the surface of your tooth that eventually hardens under or above your gum line, turning into tartar which forms a shield for bacteria. Dental plaque is caused because of eating lots of sugar and starches. Lack of cleaning and washing those off creates plaque. Tartar is comparatively difficult to remove and stays as a hardened texture on your teeth.
Plaque growth leads to acid emission that initially attacks the enamel’s hard surface causing tiny holes. Once the enamel’s hard surface is damaged, the next layer, dentin, is attacked. It is comparatively softer and weaker than enamel that leads to sensitivity of your teeth.
Further damage irritates the innermost tooth matter, the pulp that contains the nerve and blood vessels. The decay causes the pulp to swell up, putting pressure and strain on the nerves and vessels, causing pain and toothache. Such pain and discomfort can extend beyond your tooth root to your bones.
How to stop tooth decay from spreading?
Prevention is absolutely better than cure. In order to prevent the occurrence of decayed teeth, you should follow the below-mentioned routine on a daily basis.
- Brushing twice, especially using a soft-bristled toothbrush
- Use a fluoride-rich toothpaste
- Floss your teeth daily
- Use mouthwash to rinse your mouth after brushing and flossing.
- Limit your sugar and beverages intake.
- Replace your toothbrush once every three months.
- Check up with your dentist regularly.
Other preventive measures include:
- Scheduling a regular dental cleanup.
- Avoiding tobacco.
- Contact your dentist when you face any oral issues.
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Among other things, you now know how important your oral health and hygiene are. Taking it lightly and treating it carelessly can lead to serious repercussions. Try keeping your mouth healthy and taking proper care of your teeth like a good long-term investment with a promising return throughout your life. A healthy mouth can lead to a healthy lifestyle.