What Are the Dangers of Rotten Teeth?

Updated April 17, 2017

The thought of having to go to the dentist to take care of a rotting tooth can be frightening. After all, dental work can be expensive and painful. However, the dangers of not getting the problem taken care of are scarier than the pain you may face in the dentist's chair.


Pain may be one of the more noticeable symptoms of rotting teeth and the one that pushes most people to visit their dentist. Though cavities don't initially present with pain, once the decay reaches the root of the tooth and hits the nerves, the tooth will start to hurt. This might start with pain upon eating sweet or acidic foods or foods that are too hot or too cold. The tooth might hurt when you put pressure on it through biting or chewing. If the decay is severe the tooth might throb with pain.

Tooth Loss

Severe tooth decay may lead to tooth loss. As bacteria and acid build up on tooth surfaces, the enamel begins to break down. If you treat the problem in its early stages, it is likely that the teeth can be saved through fillings, crowns and even root canals. As the acid continues to eat away at your teeth, you begin to lose your teeth directly to decay. If the damage runs too deep, your teeth may need to be pulled out to prevent further complications.


The poor oral hygiene associated with rotting teeth is also likely to affect your gums. Plaque and bacteria that build up on rotting teeth may also get caught under your gums. This can lead to a painful inflammation of the gums known as gingivitis, which in severe cases can result in receding gums and systemic infection.


If the pain doesn't drive you to take care of your rotting teeth, the risk of infection should. Infections start locally and can lead to painful abscesses. But if left to fester, the infection can be spread throughout your bloodstream and affect any part of your body. This can lead to sepsis, which, if not treated early enough, can result in death.

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About the Author

Mona Louis began writing professionally in 2009. She writes frequently about photography and music, particularly the guitar. Louis is currently finishing up her Bachelor of Arts in communications and psychology at Arizona State University.