Question

Cavities

How does tooth decay affect my body?

A Answers (5)

  • Tooth decay does more than affect your smile. When you have untreated tooth decay in your mouth it can lead to a toothache, gum disease, and eventually, tooth loss. When your mouth hurts, you can't smile or speak or chew properly. That's why regular dental appointments are so important. And always remember to brush your teeth twice a day for two minutes with a fluoride toothpaste, and to floss regularly.
  • AWilliam M. Litaker, Dentistry, answered

    Tooth decay can affect your body. At first your tooth may be sensitive and you may avoid eating certain foods which would affect your nutrition. Left untreated the decay can cause pain in the tooth leading to a loss of concentration and loss of sleep at night which can affect your performance at work and at school. The decay can also cause the tooth to abscess leading to an infection. The infection can spread throughout your body causing flu like symptoms. The infection can also necessitate the need for the tooth to be extracted and maybe the surrounding teeth. In rare instance, the infection can spread to the brain causing death. Regular visits to the dentist are important to diagnose and treat tooth decay. 

  • AYohan Kim, Dentistry, answered

    Tooth decay itself can have a minimal effect on the body. However, as you lose teeth due to the non-restorable situations by decays, your ability to chew can dramatically decrease. When you cannot chew properly, you usually swallow the food without making it small enough for the stomach to digest. Then, there is an upset in your stomach that it can lead to GERD which is Gastroesophageal reflux disease.

    Also, toothache is one of the worst pains you can have. Having the constant toothache, it can dramatically lower the quality of your life (can cause stress/chronic pain/depression).  

     

  • AThomas Connelly, Dentistry, answered

    The first way is that tooth decay, if left alone, will eventually cause a cavity. This is almost always the starting point. And hopefully, it ends there (e.g.: taking care of the cavity with a filling). But if the cavity is not handled and the tooth decays further, the tooth could weaken and break, and/or an infection/abscess could form. The infection could then spread, causing a myriad of health complications (too many to list here). So the common equation becomes tooth decay leads to cavities which leads to infection which leads to… well, at that point, you really need to see your dentist.

  • AHealthwise answered

    Tooth decay usually happens slowly over a period of months or years.

    Decay begins when bacteria in your mouth increase during the first 20 to 30 minutes after you eat. The bacteria make acids, which eat away at the hard mineral layers of the tooth. A hole (cavity) forms when the acids cause more damage than the tooth can repair.

    A tooth has an outer layer (enamel), a middle layer (dentin), and a center (pulp). The more layers that are affected by decay, the worse the damage.

    • When tooth decay is mild, the area of decay is small and has not pierced the tooth surface. You can sometimes stop the decay with improved care, such as having your dentist apply fluoride to your teeth.
    • When tooth decay gets worse, a cavity forms. You will need a filling to stop the decay and prevent more damage.
    • If the pulp begins to decay, the tooth will likely die, because the pulp contains nerves and blood vessels that supply the tooth. After a decayed tooth dies, an abscess may form in the bone at the end of the root. For more information, see the topic Abscessed Tooth.

    Types of cavities (dental caries) are:

    • Pit and fissure cavities, which form in the deep pits and grooves on the chewing and biting surfaces of the back teeth.
    • Smooth-surface cavities, which form on the sides of teeth, including between the teeth.
    • Root cavities, which form on the root and can extend below the gum line. Root decay is less common than decay in other parts of the tooth. But root decay is more likely to damage the tooth pulp.
    • Recurrent or secondary cavities, which form where you already had a cavity.

    Untreated tooth decay causes more severe problems and can lead to gum disease.

    Your saliva helps prevent tooth decay. It reduces acid damage to a tooth by washing away sticky, sugary foods that feed bacteria. The minerals in saliva also can help repair the tooth.

    © Healthwise, Incorporated.

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