What Can Happen From Tooth Decay?

Posted on: November 16, 2018

Unfortunately, our teeth do not last forever. Age and genetics can cause gums to recede, the root of the tooth to decay and a whole host of other dental issues.

However, there are plenty of ways lifestyle and diet can cause decay, all of which can be prevented. Brushing with fluoride toothpaste can help retain enamel and protect the tooth, as can rinsing or irrigating the mouth after eating.

But how bad is tooth decay? What causes it, and what kind of complications can it create?

Common effects of tooth decay

Tooth decay is most commonly caused by eating foods containing starches and sugars. Candy, soda, desserts and carb-heavy meals can all contribute to tooth decay, especially when not followed by rinsing and brushing.

Increased sensitivity

As the enamel wears away (or as the gums recede), the sensitive parts of the tooth can be revealed. When the root or the nerves come in contact with things like hot beverages, cold beverages and spicy food, they can become extremely uncomfortable. It may ultimately force the sufferer to stop eating and drinking hot and cold food entirely.

Pain when eating or biting

Tooth decay and cavities can cause pain and discomfort while eating, especially when biting down. This could eliminate hard food options and lead to a diet of mushy or bland food. The pain itself is also a consideration — constant tooth pain can be debilitating.

Tooth loss

Obviously, once cavities and tooth decay reach a certain point, tooth loss is almost assured. This can happen naturally, with the infected tooth either cracking or falling out entirely, or can result from a procedure where tooth removal is unavoidable.

Tooth loss has other side effects, like altering the shape of the face as underlying structures disappear. A change in appearance, especially in the face, can lead to loss of confidence and depression. Tooth loss can also cause the surrounding teeth to shift, effectively “leaning toward” the hole, which can cause future problems.


Tooth decay can lead to bacterial infection, which can cause a painful condition like a tooth abscess. A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that can form either underneath the tooth or in the adjacent gums.

Abscesses can not only be painful but also actually lead to a fever and severe swelling.

Other medical complications

Tooth decay and general bad oral health can do more than affect the smile, it can cause a host of other medical issues, including increased risk of heart disease, diabetes and lung problems. For pregnant women, it can even lead to things like premature birth.

How to prevent tooth decay

Tooth decay can hit anyone, regardless of diet and overall health. However, a solid dental health routine of frequent brushing, flossing and rinsing can greatly reduce your chances of tooth decay.

Don’t neglect trips to the dentist either. Regular cleanings can help, as can procedures like dental sealings and crowns.

Request an appointment in our Westford office here: https://smilewestford.com.

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