Why Bad Teeth May Cause Serious Health Problems?
Failing to look after your teeth can cause health problems other than just tooth pain. Poor oral health can make you sick, affect your overall wellbeing and exacerbate existing health conditions.
Going to the dentist only if you’re in pain can put you at risk. When you take care of your teeth, you are investing in your overall health. Here’s why tooth decay and other oral health problems can lead to more serious issues in your body.
How rotten teeth can cause health problems
A rotten or decaying tooth is a symptom of bacteria attacking your teeth. When bacteria builds up in the mouth it can spread to other places in the body, not to mention other teeth, and cause infections.
An infection in the mouth can cause a tooth abscess, which can lead to the loss of your tooth. An abscess is a painful collection of pus and can occur at the tip of the root. They are often caused by cavities in the top or sides of your teeth. Symptoms include:
- Throbbing and pain in your tooth
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Pain and tenderness when chewing
- Swelling in the neck and jaw
- Redness and swelling of the gums
How tooth decay can cause health problems
Tooth decay is the gradual breakdown of the enamel of your tooth. When plague form on the tooth they can produce harmful acids which eat away at this protective outer layer, especially when they come into contact with sugar from soft drink or starchy foods.
The decay from your enamel is what causes a tooth cavity. Tooth cavities can be painful, but they are also associated with other health risks.
Left untreated your cavity can turn into something more serious. You might start off experiencing sensitivity from hot or cold temperatures and tooth pain. Left untreated, tooth decay can affect the tooth nerve and require a root canal to remove the decay.
Tooth decay has been linked to a wide range of health issues as it worsens, such as:
- Heart and lung disease
- Social anxiety and depression
- Chronic pain
- Loss of sleep
What happens if an abscess or tooth decay isn’t treated
Infection can spread from your tooth to other parts of the mouth, teeth, gums, jaw and even other places in the body. If an abscess isn’t treated it can cause the jaw and neck to become infected and cause difficulty breathing and swallowing.
In general, tooth decay and poor oral health can weaken your immune system and put you at risk of the infection spreading. An untreated abscess can also cause sepsis. This is the bodies response to an extreme infection and can lead to tissue damage, organ failure and serious long term side effects.
How can I prevent health problems from an abscess or tooth decay?
The good news is that tooth decay and poor oral health doesn’t just happen overnight. However, the majority of people don’t go to the dentist regularly. In fact, up to 50% of adults surveyed in New Zealand say they almost never go to a dentist, while thousands of children are hospitalised each year due to the health problems caused by rotten teeth.
One of the biggest culprits causing tooth decay in children is sugar. Removing soft drinks from your diet is one of the best steps you can take to better oral health. Brushing with a fluoride toothpaste is also important. Other factors to keep your mouth healthy are:
- Visiting the dentist twice a year regardless of whether you are experiencing pain
- Brushing for two minutes, twice a day, and flossing every day
- Eating hard, healthy foods like raw vegetables to strengthen your teeth and jaw
- Drinking fluoridated water to keep teeth protected, healthy, and strong
If it’s been a while since you visited the dentist now is a good time to book an appointment. The team at Gentle Dental can work with you to develop good oral hygiene habits that look at your mouth and long-term health. Book an appointment today.