If you are looking for information on repairable cavities, please see our Cavities page. Here, we will discuss the condition of rampant tooth decay or rot that affects most or all of the teeth. This condition usually involves large visible dark spots or holes in multiple teeth.
What Causes Severe Tooth Decay?
The cause of severe tooth decay or rot is the same thing that causes cavities: bacteria in dental plaque. We eat sugar that feeds the bacteria, who produce acid that softens and weakens tooth enamel. When cavities develop into large holes on multiple teeth, there may be some underlying factors that contribute to the problem.
We commonly see severe tooth decay in patients who have never had any access to dentistry. Without preventive dental care, the disease process can run unchecked. When a lack of oral healthcare combines with a high-sugar diet and poor oral hygiene, it is not uncommon for severe, widespread decay to develop.
Widespread tooth decay is also common among people who use illicit drugs, like methamphetamines. These drugs lead to both severe dry mouth and a lack of both professional and home care. For this reason, you might hear rampant decay called “meth mouth”.
Many of our patients suffer from dry mouth as the result of taking multiple prescription medications. If someone with a dry mouth does not receive consistent dental care, he or she is at risk for rapid progression of decay.
People undergoing cancer treatment, using chemotherapy and/or radiation, also have a higher risk for developing rapidly growing tooth decay.
Do Rotten Teeth Have to Be Pulled?
In most cases, yes.
At Premier Dental of Ohio, we always recommend the dental treatment that will give you the best long-term success. In cases of rotten teeth, sometimes we can save them, but we should not. You could spend a lot of money to save a tooth that would still have a poor overall prognosis in the long term. When teeth are badly decayed, the success rate of restorations is typically low.
What are the Treatment Options for Severe Tooth Decay?
If severe tooth decay leaves you with multiple missing teeth, you have several options to replace them. With dental implants, we can even replace them in a way that does not require removal (like traditional dentures). Patients who are prone to rapidly progressing decay should consider dental implants as the most viable option to replace the missing teeth. This is because implants are impervious to decay. They cannot rot away, as teeth do.
Your Premier Dentist will work with you to customize a treatment plan that meets your goals and sets you up for long-term success.