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The consequences of tooth decay can be quite serious depending on how severe the decay is.
In a previous blog, “Dental anatomy 101,” posted on August 5th, 2016, we looked at the anatomy of the tooth i.e. the different layers.
If there is decay in the outermost layer (enamel), it is unlikely that one will feel any pain. Even as the decay moves inwards through the dentin, it is unlikely that any pain will be experienced. The decay needs to get pretty close to the nerve in order for the tooth to become symptomatic i.e. sensitivity to cold or sweets.
Once the decay is in close proximity to the nerve, symptoms become more severe i.e. sensitivity when the tooth is ‘tapped’, spontaneous pain and sensitivity to hot temperatures.
Once the decay reaches the nerve, the tooth is usually committed to needing a root canal (please see the blog ‘Rrrrrroot Canal,” posted on January 24th, 2012) or being extracted.
If the decay is so severe and there is minimal tooth structure left, then an extraction is usually recommended.
The Consequences of Severe Decay
Advanced decay can lead not only to tooth loss, but also;
1) Dental pain.
2) Abscessed (infected) teeth.
3) Eventual gum infections.
4) Problems chewing.
5) Broken/fractured teeth.
6) Shifting of teeth if the decay is so severe that the tooth needs to be extracted. This applies to both primary (baby) and secondary (adult) teeth.
7) Change in one’s appearance.
8) Bad breath.
Have you ever had a toothache? I haven’t, but I’ve heard that they can be quite debilitating. The actual pain occurs when the decay is in close proximity to or has entered the nerve.
This pain may interfere with your normal routine i.e. going to work or school. It may also cause one to not be able to eat properly, hence not getting your required nutritional intake.
Abscessed Teeth and Gum Infections
Aside from the pain, after the decay (bacteria) enters the nerve, it’s quite possible to develop both an abscessed tooth and gum infection. Again, this may affect your day to day life and lead to possible health issues such as poor nutrition, lowered immunity, etc.
If severe enough, the infection may spread resulting in a cellulitis. This is when the swelling is very pronounced. The infection may even enter your bloodstream resulting in a septicemia, which can be life threatening.
Broken / Fractured Teeth and Problems Chewing
As can be seen in the image above, severe decay may lead to pieces of the tooth breaking off. This may result in sharp and pointy areas of tooth structure. ‘These’ may further lead to individuals complaining of soft tissue pain i.e. cuts on their cheek and tongue. This can cause difficulty with chewing.
As discussed in a previous blog, “What Happens When a Tooth is Removed,” posted on September 24th, 2011, when a tooth is removed, there is often a resulting shifting of teeth. This can lead to a variety of problems affecting your bite.
Change in Appearance
It doesn’t have to be a front tooth that’s missing, to affect your appearance. It can also be a side tooth i.e. a premolar or molar tooth. If you have a broad smile, it may be quite noticeable that you are missing a side tooth. It may affect your appearance, but also your confidence and self-esteem.
A severely decayed tooth may be a source of bad odour. Plaque and food debris may accumulate in it and if not removed may result in a foul smell. For more information, please see the blog “Halitosis, otherwise known as Bad Breath,” posted on June 24th, 2012.
What are your Options?
If the decay is severe enough that the tooth needs to be removed, then it should be replaced.
The three main options are; removable dentures, fixed bridges and dental implants. The best choice is the dental implants. For more information on dental implants, please see the blog, “Dental Implants…A Great Solution for a Missing Tooth,” posted on October 9th, 2011.
Try not to wait until you have dental pain to go and see the dentist…After all, this will likely lead to the tooth in question needing to be treated with a root canal or being extracted.
A regular six month cleaning and checkup may save you from the above.
Yours in good dental health,
Dr. Robert Axelrad, Brampton’s Gentle Dentist
For any dental questions or concerns, please give us a call today @ 905.791.3867…you’ll be glad you did!
Based in Brampton, Ontario, Brampton Dentist Dr. Robert Axelrad has been practicing gentle and pain-free dentistry for over two decades. During this time, he has helped to improve the dental health of countless satisfied patients in Peel Region, Brampton and beyond! Feel free to call us today at (905) 791-3867 for any dental health question you may have, as we are always happy to hear from you.