How a Rotten Tooth Affects Your Health
Every day we’re surrounded by bacteria. Whether you’re at work, home, or your local coffee shop, bacteria can be found on any surface. Any time you come in contact with bacteria, you’re at risk of catching an illness.
Given this fact, you may not be too surprised to learn that the bacteria in your food can cause not only tooth decay but also more serious diseases that affect your entire body.
What Causes a Tooth to Become Rotten?
When bacteria sits on a tooth too long without being washed off, it causes plaque to build. Over time, this plaque begins to eat away at the tooth. At this point, the tooth starts to decay or “rot”.
Dentists such as Dr. Mark Rangel recommend brushing twice a day and flossing once a day to keep your teeth healthy. However, it’s not just slacking off on your oral hygiene routine that can cause cavities. Consuming certain types of food can make tooth decay occur at a quicker rate.
Foods and beverages that can quickly lead to tooth decay include:
- Chewy candy
- Citrus fruits
These foods are high in sugar or acidity, both of which weaken the enamel and leave the teeth vulnerable to infection and decay.
Tooth Decay Causes Gum Disease
If it’s left untreated, tooth decay can spread to a person’s gums and the rest of their mouth as well. When the bacteria spread to the gums, they may begin to swell and become inflamed. The bacteria cause the gums to recede and if the infection reaches the jawbone and supportive tissues it can cause the tooth to loosen.
Eventually, this inflammation can cause your gums to become weak and eventually lead to tooth loss according to Dr. Spector.
Inflamed gums are a leading cause of gum disease and other illnesses. One source found that if the gums become inflamed enough, they can cause airway blockage and flu-like symptoms.
Diseases Caused By Tooth Decay
While they may primarily affect your teeth and gums, oral diseases can lead to more serious diseases throughout your body. Often times, doctors discover symptoms of diseases in your mouth first. Tooth decay can cause illnesses as minor as the cold of flu, but can also cause more serious diseases.
One of the heavily researched correlations is the link between gum disease and diabetes. It’s been found that while gum disease can cause diabetes, the reverse is true as well.
Diabetes occurs when your body is unable to regulate glucose and blood sugar levels correctly. When your gums become infected due to tooth decay, the bacteria enter your bloodstream and cause blood sugar levels to rise. That substance can eventually travel into your bloodstream and increase the risk of diabetes.
It’s been found that gum disease can lead to heart disease as well. Heart disease, also known as cardiovascular disease, occurs when the valves and blood vessels in your heart tighten or constrict. The condition can be life-threatening and lead to heart attacks.
When a person is suffering from gum disease, their gums become inflamed and infected with bacteria. If the gum disease is severe enough, the inflammation can cause the blood vessels to become inflamed. There’s also a chance that the plaque build up in your mouth can travel through the blood and cause a heart attack.
While it’s not as commonly known, tooth decay and gum disease can cause illnesses in the brain as well. One mental disease that oral infections can cause is dementia. This is a disorder in the brain that causes loss of memory, motor skills, and thinking abilities.
There are multiple reasons gum disease is thought to cause dementia. Like the other diseases mentioned, the inflammation of the gums can lead to swelling in the brain, causing damage. Bacteria can also travel from the mouth to the brain causing inflammation in the brain.
Preventing Tooth Decay
Maintaining healthy oral hygiene is an effective way to reduce your risk for gum disease and major diseases that affect your health. Knowing what steps to take to create a good oral hygiene routine will help you live a longer, healthier life.
To keep your teeth and gums healthy and free from plaque, consider implementing the following steps into your routine:
1. Brush twice a day
2. Floss at least once a day
3. Rinse with alcohol-free mouthwash
4. Limit your intake of foods high in sugar or acidity
5. Visit your dentist regularly
Seeking Professional Help
If you’re experiencing tooth pain or suffering from tooth decay, it’s crucial that you visit your local dentist to receive treatment. If the decay is caught during its early stages, it can be treated with a simple filling.
However, if the decay is severe, a dentist who specializes in implant dentistry such as Dr. Klym may need to extract the tooth and replace it with a natural-looking dental implant.