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What are Rotten Teeth: Causes, Signs, Symptoms, Treatment, Prevention

What are Rotten Teeth?

Rotten teeth are the ones that get damaged due to decay or infection. This can occur due to inadequate oral hygiene. It leads to pain, sensitivity, and difficulty in eating. Enamel is the protective coating of the teeth. Bacteria make the acid that attacks the enamel causing decay. This leads to cavities which are permanent spots or tiny holes in the teeth.

At the beginning of decay, the person may notice brown or discolored spots that on worsening lead to the development of holes.

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Causes of Rotten Teeth

The main cause of rotten teeth is plaque build-up with insufficient oral hygiene.(1) Plaque is the sticky film consisting of bacteria, saliva, and food particles that cover the teeth.

The bacteria metabolizes food and sugar and produce acid at the surface of the teeth. If the teeth are not cleaned properly, the acid erodes the enamel and slowly damages it, leading to a rotten tooth.

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People with a higher risk of rotten teeth include:(2)

  • Those with dry mouth
  • Taking certain medication
  • People having diabetes and certain other health condition
  • Those with mobility issues as they cannot move to clean the teeth

Children and Rotten Teeth

Children are more susceptible to tooth decay and rotten teeth as they have weaker and thinner enamel than adults. Their enamel gets easily damaged by sugary and acidic foods and drinks.

Also, children object to the dental cleaning given by their caregivers which may lead to poor oral hygiene.

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As the first permanent teeth erupt, they are very sensitive. The enamel has not yet hardened making it vulnerable to decay. Tooth eruption may also lead to sore gums, making children avoid brushing their teeth properly.

Symptoms of Rotten Teeth

Those with rotten teeth may experience:

  • Marks on the tooth enamel
  • Tooth sensitivity
  • Tooth having a hole at the surface
  • Pain in the teeth while eating and drinking

Treatment of Rotten Teeth

The treatment of tooth decay depends on the stage of tooth decay. If discolored spots appear on the teeth, brushing with fluoride toothpaste helps in eliminating the decay.

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The dentist recommends filling the hole or the cavity in the tooth. This involves drilling a hole in the damaged area to remove any decayed tissue and refill the cavity. The filling is made of resin, ceramic, or metal. In case of severe tooth damage, a crown is recommended. In such a case, an artificial cap is put on after cleaning and filling the damaged tooth.

If the infection has reached the nerves of the tooth, a root canal treatment may be recommended. It involves removing the damaged tissue and disinfecting and filling the area.

If saving the tooth is not possible, tooth extraction may be recommended and replacement with a bridge, denture, or implant is done.

How to Prevent Rotten Teeth?

Maintaining proper oral hygiene is the best way to prevent teeth from rotting. It involves brushing the teeth with fluoride toothpaste, flossing, and going for regular dental check-ups.

Fluoride toothpaste plays a role in strengthening the enamel and protecting the teeth from decay and rotting. Children can start using toothpaste containing fluoride as soon as their first tooth erupts. Excess fluoride should be avoided as it may lead to side effects.

Brushing removes the plaque and harmful bacteria that produce acid causing damage to the teeth. It is recommended by dentists that everyone should brush their teeth twice a day after meals.

The consumption of sugar and sodas should be in moderation to reduce tooth decay.

Regular dental check-ups can be helpful in detecting decay in the early stage. Fluoride varnish can be applied by dentists to seal any pits or grooves.

If left untreated, rotten teeth can be a significant health issue. Any person experiencing tooth decay should consult a dentist and get it corrected in the early stages. Severe cases may lead to loss of a tooth as tooth extraction may be required.

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