Rotten Teeth: Causes, Symptoms and Treatment

Rotten Teeth Pictures
The teeth are used to break down food, which is the first step of the digestion process. They are exposed to anything that enters the mouth, such as food, beverages, acid, and sugar. Owing to this, it is not uncommon for one to suffer from a rotten tooth in his or her lifetime. According to the latest surveys conducted, around 60 to 90% of the children and young adults suffer from rotten teeth, and 100% of the adults and the elderly suffer the same. A rotten tooth contains cavities and is unpleasant to look at. The condition of the teeth greatly affects the digestive process, and thus the overall health of the person.

What are causes of rotten teeth?

A rotten tooth or tooth decay is due to the bacteria from the food particles that are left in the mouth or in between gums, when brushing of the teeth is not properly done or when one fails to brush his or her teeth regularly. The tooth starts to decay when the acid that formed in the food particles left in the mouth starts to corrode the outermost layer of the tooth, which is the enamel. Over time, the cavity worsens and reaches the dentin, which is the next layer of the tooth next to the enamel. At this stage of the tooth decay, the person feels mild pain when a food particle enters the cavity. As the cavity worsens and penetrates the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels, the person feels dull to sharp pain. The intensity of the pain depends on the severity of the tooth decay.

They are often caused by the following:

  • failure to brush the teeth regularly
  • improper way of brushing the teeth, where some food particles are left in the mouth and result in plaque buildup
  • frequent consumption of foods rich in sugar, such as candies, chocolates, and cake
  • injuries that damage the teeth

What are symptoms of rotten teeth?

A rotten tooth starts with a small hole that looks like a brownish or black spot on the surface of the tooth. It is often ignored until it develops into a cavity that damages the entire tooth.

Teeth rotting is characterized by the following symptoms:

  • cracks or blemishes on the surface of the teeth that appear brownish or black
  • holes that oftentimes penetrate to the roots
  • mild to sharp pain
  • infection or swelling of the gums
  • bad breath

Remedies and treatment of rotten teeth

Many people believe that once a tooth starts to decay, it can never be stopped or reversed and would usually result to tooth extraction. Fortunately, with the latest development of technology, this is no longer the case. Once a tooth decay is noticed, visit the dentist immediately. As soon as the dentist sees the rotten tooth, the tooth is cleaned first before the appropriate treatment is applied. This may take more than one visit to the dentist. The treatment would depend on the severity of the tooth decay. The following are the common methods of treatment for teeth rotting:

  • fluoride treatments
  • use of temporary and permanent dental fillings
  • root canal treatment
  • tooth extraction

At the earliest stage of tooth decay, where only the slightest crack or small hole can be seen in the tooth, the use of fluoride and proper oral hygiene can stop and reverse the condition of the tooth. However, when the tooth decay is more severe than this and cavities are already present, dental fillings are necessary.

The use of fillings is appropriate when the cavity has not yet reached the pulp or the root of the tooth. In this method, the tooth is cleaned first with an antibacterial gel before a temporary filling is applied. After a week or two, during the return visit to the dentist, the dentist drills the tooth cavity to remove it and prevent it from further spreading. After the cavity has been completely removed, permanent dental filling is then applied.

If the infection has already reached the pulp, where the nerves and blood vessels are found, root canal treatment is oftentimes recommended. In this method, local anesthesia is administered first to numb the affected teeth, gums, and the tongue so that the dentist can carry out the root canal treatment smoothly. After the anesthesia has taken effect, the damaged pulp is drilled or removed and replaced with medicines, temporary filling materials and root canal filling. After the root canal filling, a permanent filling for the drilled or damaged crown is then applied. Root canal treatment is quite expensive and complex. But it is highly recommended and beneficial than to have one’s tooth extracted.

The last option, and the least recommended, when the above treatments are no longer effective or beneficial, is to pull out the rotten teeth to prevent the bacteria from spreading and infecting the remaining teeth. Before they are extracted, a local anesthesia is also injected to the affected area to numb the teeth, gums and the surrounding tissues so that tooth extraction will be painless. After these bad teeth have been extracted, antibiotics and painkillers are prescribed to the patient to avoid complications after the tooth extractions.

Prevention is better than cure  

Having a rotten tooth may seem no big deal since the pain can be dealt with through various ways. However, it results in undesirable consequences. People with rotten or extracted teeth are hesitant to smile or show their teeth. It affects one’s self-confidence and overall well-being. To avoid such, the following are recommended.

  • Brush your teeth regularly and properly; brushing should be done in circular motion.
  • Use dental floss to remove the food particles that cannot be removed by using toothbrush alone.
  • Visit your dentist regularly, at least once a month, to be able to spot and treat dental cavities earlier.
  • Avoid eating too much sugary foods, and make sure to brush your teeth after eating such foods.
  • Use toothpaste that has sufficient amount of fluoride.


Many people take instances of rotten teeth lightly maybe because the pain that these may cause is sometimes bearable, can be relieved by taking in pain relievers, or goes away after a certain period. However, they are unpleasant to look at and may cause health concerns that many are unaware of. The bacteria that lodge in the teeth could enter the blood stream and reach the other vital organs in the body and cause further damage. Thus, to prevent complications from what may appear as simple tooth decay, it is important that medical advice be sought from a dentist immediately.