The effects of tooth decay are obviously bad for your teeth and mouth. However, it can cause a lot more damage than you may think.
Tooth decay is caused by a build-up of plaque, a sticky substance that coats your teeth that will eventually break down the enamel on your teeth. Without proper treatment (a dental filling), you can experience pain, discomfort, and inflammation in your teeth and jaw. Tooth decay can also increase sensitivity to sugary foods or hot and cold temperatures.
All of these effects of tooth decay are centralized in the mouth, but the health of your mouth and teeth are connected to your entire body. Untreated tooth decay can wreak havoc on your body and overall health. Not only can decay destroy your teeth, but it can also cause infections, put you at risk for heart disease, and, in extreme cases, even death.
It Can Weaken Your Immune System
There is a natural number of bacteria that lives in your mouth, but when there is an abundance of bacteria due to infection, it can spread to other places in your body. Think of your mouth as a gateway to the rest of your body. Anything that affects your oral health can affect the entirety of your body.
As the bacteria spread from your mouth, your body tries to fight off the infection in several places, which can cause it to fatigue. A fatigued immune system is much less effective and can leave you vulnerable to other illnesses.
Existing Health Conditions Can Worsen
Since tooth decay can overwhelm your immune system, it can limit your body’s ability to fight against existing conditions. If you have diabetes, HIV/AIDS, or other chronic immunocompromising conditions, tooth decay can worsen your symptoms or compromise your health. Your body can only do so much with an already stressed immune system, which makes tooth decay dangerous.
Heart Disease Is More Likely
Several studies have been done that have linked tooth decay and gum disease to an increased risk of heart disease. The bacteria that cause periodontal disease are the same bacteria that cause heart disease.
The way that plaque builds in the mouth is very similar to how it builds in your heart. Without a proper diet or even the right medications, plaque can slowly build up in your arteries, which can lead to a decrease in the efficiency of blood flow or a complete blockage. This has the potential of causing a heart attack.
Potential Risk of Death
If a cavity progresses into the soft tissues of your teeth and gums, you can develop an infection. While an infection has the possibility of increasing your chances of procedures like a root canal or a tooth extraction, it can have deadly consequences if not treated.
Untreated infections can spread to other places in your body, including your brain. Infections in the brain are potentially fatal because it is a vital organ. It can trigger other systems in your body to shut down or not run efficiently.