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Dental Care: How to Deal with a Rotten Tooth

Having a rotten tooth is more than an inconvenience: this dental issue can lead to serious complications when left untreated. A small amount of tooth decay can spread throughout the tooth, causing a severe infection that could result in tooth loss and even danger to your overall health.

So, if you have any amount of tooth decay, then the most important thing you can do is talk to your dentist about how to fix a rotten tooth. Our team at myDental is here to assist, offering a variety of general and restorative dentistry solutions.

The Causes of Rotten Teeth

If you have a rotten tooth, it’s another way of saying that there is severe decay in that tooth. Tooth decay starts small, usually caused by eating sugary/starchy foods and not keeping up with a good oral healthcare routine. Regular cleaning removes the layer of bacteria and plaque that builds up on the teeth, helping to prevent the likelihood of the enamel being weakened and the tooth decay moving deeper into the tooth.

Even a small amount of tooth decay can start to spread, eating away at the tooth bit by bit. It can start to cause an infection in the soft tissue within the middle of the tooth, causing it to rot from the inside out.

Signs You Have a Rotten Tooth

When tooth decay first begins, there are usually no signs or symptoms. This is why it’s essential to visit a dentist for regular checkups, because your dentist can find and treat small cavities so that you don’t need to fix a rotten tooth in the future.

If the tooth decay goes undetected or is left untreated, then it can lead to more serious rotten tooth symptoms, including:

  • Toothache
  • Pain when chewing
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures
  • Sensitivity to sour or sweet foods
  • Discolored spots on the tooth (black, brown, yellow, or white)
  • An unpleasant taste in your mouth
  • Chronic bad breath
  • Swelling of the gums

When you are experiencing any of these symptoms, it’s critical that you visit our dental team as soon as possible. How do you stop a rotten tooth from getting worse? Immediate dental care is the key factor.

Can a Rotton Tooth Be Saved?

One of the first questions patients will ask is: should a rotten tooth be pulled? Or, can you fix a rotten tooth? The good news is that modern dental treatments can save your tooth, but only if you are proactive about seeking fast dental care. A root canal is a common treatment in this situation.

Stages of Tooth Decay Leading to a Rotten Tooth

Every patient should understand the stages of tooth decay, and how a small cavity can lead to a rotten tooth.

Stage 1

In the first stage, you might not experience any symptoms. But your dentist identifies the damaged part of the tooth during a routine dental exam. At this point, if the tooth decay is minimal, then a fluoride treatment might be sufficient to strengthen the enamel and prevent the decay from spreading.

Not only should you be using toothpaste with fluoride, but an in-office fluoride treatment is more powerful and can be used as a preventive treatment to reduce the need for fillings in the future.

Stage 2

The next stage of tooth decay means that the rotting part of the tooth has eaten away at the protective enamel on the outside of the tooth.

If tooth damage progresses to this stage, then it’s often necessary to perform some type of dental treatment to remove tooth decay and restore the tooth.

Stage 3

Now that the decay has reached the third stage, it means that the infection and damage are moving deeper into the tooth. More invasive dental treatments are required. But the good news is that it’s still possible to save the tooth with restorative dentistry.

Stage 4

When a rotten tooth is so decayed and damaged that it reaches stage four, then usually the only option is to extract the tooth. Removing the tooth is necessary to alleviate the symptoms and also prevent the tooth decay from spreading to the gums, jawbone, and other teeth.

What Will a Dentist Do for a Rotten Tooth?

The actual treatment for a rotten tooth depends on the severity of your tooth decay. Common treatments include:

  • Stage 1 Treatment: Since tooth decay is minimal at this point, a fluoride treatment might be sufficient to stop it and prevent the decay from spreading to other parts of the tooth. Your dentist might recommend an in-office fluoride treatment, as well as follow-up visits to monitor the progress of the cavity.
  • Stage 2 Treatment: General dentistry is sufficient for treating stage two cavities. The most common recommendation is a basic filling. The dentist will drill away to remove the decayed portion of the tooth. Then, composite materials are used to fill in the gaps and restore the function, strength, and appearance of the tooth.
  • Stage 3 Treatment: When a rotten tooth reaches stage three, then it means that there is infected tissue within the tooth. Luckily, modern dentistry offers a solution in the form of a root canal. Since the nerves and pulp are affected, a root canal must be used to remove the tissues and clean the inside of the tooth. The exterior structure of the tooth can be preserved. Often, stage 3 treatment also involves a restorative treatment, such as a crown or bridge.
  • Stage 4 Treatment: At this point, the tooth is damaged beyond repair. When the rotten tooth needs to be extracted, your dentist will offer recommendations to fill in the gap using a dental implant, a bridge, or dentures.

When your dentist is designing a plan for how to deal with a rotten tooth, it’s also essential to consider treatment for an infection. For example, if there is a tooth abscess or the infection is severe, then antibiotics might be necessary to prevent a systemic infection.

How Much Does It Cost to Fix Rotten Teeth?

The price of the treatment depends on the type of dental services that are required. Fluoride treatments and basic fillings are much more affordable than root canals and crowns, which is why it’s recommended that you stay consistent with regular checkups and examinations.

When you are talking to our office about the cost of these services, also consider how much your dental insurance will pay vs. anticipated out-of-pocket expenses for the treatments.

Call myDental for an Appointment

How do you fix a rotten tooth? The first step is to schedule a dental exam and checkup. When you are ready to learn more about our restorative dental services, then we invite you to reach out to our expert team at myDental. You can book an appointment at one of our convenient locations and call our office staff any time if you have questions about these services.