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Rotten Teeth – (5 Common Causes) And What To Do

Excerpt: Rotting teeth are one of the most awkward dental issues one can go through.
Table of Contents

Rotten Teeth

Rotten teeth usually happpen because of severe tooth decay, the bacteria have infected the inner part of the tooth which will eventually cause them to become rotten and die.

Rotting teeth are one of the most awkward dental issues one can go through. This is because of all the symptoms that they can present, not to mention noticeably bad breath to anyone nearby.

How Do Teeth Become Rotten?

The main reason teeth rot is due to a lack of dental hygiene over time. Teeth are very strong and stable, so generally takes a long time for a tooth to become rotten. Even if your dental care is lacking, there is some good news, teeth typically take as long as 6 months to years to rot, so if you skipped brushing last night you don’t have to worry. Missing one night every so often isn’t going to have much of an impact, but skipping frequently, or doing the bare minimum on a regular basis will definitely affect your teeth:


  • Plaque – This is a colorless, sticky, transparent film that is produced by the bacteria buildup in your mouth. If it is not cleaned regularly it can build up and harden into tartar. This will cause tooth decay, and gum disease if given enough time.
  • Tartar – Tartar is what happens when the plaque hardens, if it has formed tartar, you will need to make a dental hygienist appointment to clean it off your teeth. Tartar buildup can be very damaging to your teeth, gums, and the bone surrounding the roots. 

Who’s More At Risk Of Rotting Teeth?

Everyone is at risk of developing cavities and having rotting teeth, typically, young children and older adults are more prone to dental decay. Younger children often consume higher amounts of sugar and bad food, and they tend to not take their dental care as seriously as they should. As we get older, our teeth weaken and become more vulnerable to decay, making it more likely to happen. 
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Common Causes Of Dental Decay

There are a lot of common causes of dental that affect most people at some point in their life. While you probably weren’t affected by all of them, you will most likely have experienced at least 1. 

Poor Dental Hygiene

Easily the most universal cause of decay, poor dental hygiene is what happens when people forget, or neglect to take care of their teeth on a regular basis. They may also not realize what proper oral care should be and are therefore doing a substandard job of it.

Here’s what everyone should be doing for oral care as a minimum:

  • Brush (preferably with an electric brush) for 30 sec on each quarter of your mouth. (2 min total) Also, brush your gums and your tongue.
  • Floss each tooth on either side. Your flossing should take a minute or two. Try using a dental pick if you find standard floss too awkward.
  • Mouthwash can be considered optional, but it is highly recommended. Take the recommended amount and swish it around your mouth for up to 30 sec.
If you do this routine every day, twice a day, you should be spending no more than 10 minutes on your teeth, but those 10 minutes can save you countless issues, discomfort, money, and even pain.

Bad Diet

An increasing amount of people are becoming more aware of what a “healthy diet” is, but many people are either still unaware or choose to eat in an unhealthy fashion. The bacteria in your mouth love eating carbohydrates. If you eat high-sugar foods, which includes everything from rice and bread, to things like candies, or drink a lot of regular pop, you will be significantly more at risk than someone who eats a balanced diet.

Eating acidic foods, or foods that cause a lot of gastric reflux can also promote decay. Your stomach acid can dissolve teeth over time.

Smoking And Tobacco Product Use

If you smoke anything or use other tobacco products, it can significantly raise your risk of dental decay. People who smoke, generally tend to do it often. Tobacco is filled with chemicals that are terrible for your teeth. The amount you smoke is related directly to your risk level. Smoking also causes numerous other health problems, including everything from bad breath to cancer. The negative effects of smoking can be mitigated, if not reversed completely if you quit early enough, so we always recommend that quitting is at the top of the list of things to do.

Fluoride Deficiency

Fluoride has been proven to help teeth, if you are living in a city where they don’t add it to the drinking water, or you only drink bottled water, you may want to consider procuring some fluoride-containing dental products.


Some people by no fault of their own have dental issues purely because of their genetics. You may have weakened teeth or teeth with thin enamel that would increase your odds of decay. For these patients, we recommend you pay very close attention to your oral health, as you may need a higher standard than most.

Symptoms Of Cavities

If you have a minor cavity that is between the teeth or is hard to spot, you may never notice it if it does not cause you any discomfort. However, most cavities will cause you some form of distress, this mainly includes:

  • Blackish/brown spots or holes in your teeth.
  • Toothache – Varying types of pain depending on the cavity.
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold food or drink.
  • Unexplained bad breath or taste
  • Localized swelling of the gums.
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What Are The Risks & Complication Of Rotten Teeth?

If the cavity is minor, you might never need to worry about it, however, if it is not minor, you should treat it right away, or else these symptoms could occur:

  • Pain
  • Dental Abscess
  • Local Swelling
  • Fractured teeth

If you have had a toothache that has lasted for more than a day or is considerably severe, then you should immediately make a dentist appointment, you should never prolong treating a possible cavity.

What Are The Treatment Options For A Rotting Tooth?

The treatment of the cavity will entirely depend on how bad the cavity is:

  • Partial (3/4) Onlays – Excellent for small cavities on the top of the tooth.
  • Bonded Fillings –  If the cavity is too big for a partial onlay, but still manageable, a filling may work.
  • Root Canal Therapy – If the infection has gotten into the tooth, the inner pulp will need to be cleared out.
  • Dental Crown – These are used for large cavities, or for teeth that have had lots of restorative work.

Can You Repair A Rotten Tooth?

It may be possible to repair the decay if it is caught in its very early stages, as enamel can be regrown. However, most decay will have gotten past the point of reversal by the time it is noticed.
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