Tooth decay can be severe, depending on the stage of decay.
Learn about the signs and your options when dealing with tooth decay…
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 close to the nerve for the tooth to become symptomatic, i.e. sensitivity to colds or sweets.
Once the decay is near 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 or tooth extraction. However, if the decay is severe and minimal tooth structure is left, an extraction is usually recommended.
The Consequences of Severe Decay
Advanced decay can lead not only to tooth loss but also to;
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? If so, you know that it can be quite debilitating. The pain occurs when the decay is near or has entered the nerve.
This pain may interfere with your routine, i.e., work or school. It may also cause one to be unable to eat correctly, 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 entirely possible to develop both an abscessed tooth and a 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 cellulitis. This is when the swelling is very pronounced. The infection may even enter your bloodstream resulting in septicemia, which can be life-threatening.
Broken / Fractured Teeth and Problems Chewing
As 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.
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 missing front tooth 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 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 foul odour. Plaque and food debris may accumulate 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 24, 2012.
What are your Options?
If the decay is severe enough that the tooth needs to be removed, it should be replaced. The three main options are:
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 needing to be treated with a root canal procedure or extraction. A regular six-month dental cleaning and checkup may save you from the above.
Yours in good dental health,
Dr. F. Keshavarz Dentistry, Making Brampton Smile Since 2001
Based in Brampton, Ontario, Dr. F. Keshavarz Dental Clinic has practiced gentle and pain-free dentistry for over two decades. During this time, they have helped to improve the dental health of countless satisfied patients in Brampton, Peel Region, Bramalea and beyond! Call us today at (905) 791-3867 for any dental health questions, as we are always happy to hear from you.