Rotten Teeth: Symptoms And Treatment (2023 Guide)

Are your teeth looking and feeling off? It could be a sign of something more serious. Learn about the causes, symptoms, prevention, and cure of having rotten teeth in our comprehensive guide.

12 min readRotten Teeth: Symptoms And Treatment (2023 Guide)

If you have ever suffered through the agony of a rotten tooth, you understand how uncomfortable and even intolerable it can be. Not only are rotten teeth painful, but they may cause further dental problems if left untreated. When visible, they can also be embarrassing.

Fortunately, early detection and treatment are possible. This comprehensive guide will provide you with an understanding of the symptoms, causes, prevention, and common questions about rotten teeth. It will give you a headstart to fix rotten teeth and improve your smile.

Let's get started!

Common Symptoms Of Rotten Teeth

In terms of oral health, the condition of our teeth plays an important role. Our teeth not only provide us with a beautiful smile, but they also play an essential role in our overall well-being.

That said, rotten teeth can occur for several reasons. As a result, we must become aware of the symptoms associated with this issue to identify them as soon as possible and take action before any further damage.


Have you ever woken up with a throbbing pain in your mouth that won't go away? If so, you may be experiencing the most common telltale sign of rotten teeth—a toothache.

Toothaches are an unpleasant sensation caused by inflammation of the dentin and pulp inside your tooth. While it can be painful and disruptive, understanding the causes and treatments of a toothache with your dentist can help relieve your discomfort quickly and effectively.

Sensitivity To Hot Or Cold

Tooth sensitivity is a common symptom of rotten teeth caused by the breakdown of enamel and dentin, the protective layers surrounding your teeth.

As these layers wear away, it exposes the sensitive inner layer of your tooth called the pulp. This can lead to sharp pains or stinging sensations when you eat or drink something hot, cold, sweet, or acidic.

When left untreated over time, decay can cause significant damage to both the structure and nerves within your tooth, leading to even more sensitivity in certain areas of your mouth.

See a dentist for proper diagnosis and treatment to reduce this pain and discomfort from tooth sensitivity due to rotten teeth. Treatment options may include filling cavities, root canal therapy, or even tooth extraction.

Brown, Black, Or White Spots On The Tooth

Demineralization, also known as decalcification, results from prolonged and excessive bacterial accumulation in the mouth. As the enamel thins out, discolored spots like white or brown may appear on the teeth.

These discolorations can be caused by a variety of factors, such as:

  • Not brushing and flossing
  • Consuming sugary and acidic foods and drinks
  • Not visiting the dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings
  • Using tobacco products

If left untreated, it can worsen over time, leading to cavities and further damage to your teeth.

Bad Breath

Bad breath, also known as halitosis, is a common symptom of rotten teeth, which occurs when bacteria and plaque accumulate in the mouth due to poor dental care or certain medical conditions. The bacteria produce sulfur compounds that are released into the air via saliva and emit an unpleasant odor.

Tooth decay, gum disease, cavities, abscesses, or other dental issues can cause rotten teeth. Poor hygiene practices—such as not brushing your teeth twice a day or flossing regularly—can allow food particles and plaque to build up on your teeth, eventually leading to bad breath caused by rotten teeth.

Unpleasant Taste In The Mouth

A bad taste in your mouth without eating or drinking anything that could trigger it may result from rotten teeth. The bacteria and other organisms that cause decay produce toxins that can irritate the tissue in your mouth and lead to a nasty taste.

When a cavity penetrates the inside of your tooth, bacteria have access to food but no oxygen. This causes bacteria to produce sulfur-containing compounds as they metabolize, resulting in foul odors and tastes.


When the tooth enamel has decayed or worn away, bacteria in the mouth can penetrate the tooth's inner layers. This leads to an infection, which causes inflammation around the affected area. The body responds by sending white blood cells to fight off infection and protect against further damage.

As these white blood cells accumulate in the soft tissue near the infected area, they cause swelling due to their presence. In addition, if left untreated for too long, pus may form around a rotten tooth, leading to further swelling.

This is a tooth abscess caused by an infection around the tooth root. Dentists usually drain the abscess and remove any infectious bacteria to resolve this issue.

Causes Of Rotten Teeth

Good oral hygiene is essential for maintaining healthy teeth and gums, but even those with the best habits can experience rotten teeth. Rotten teeth are an unfortunate result of poor dental health and can have a negative effect on quality of life.

But what leads to rotten teeth? The following are some of the most common causes.

Dental Hygiene

Inadequate dental hygiene can lead to a build-up of plaque, a thin film composed of bacteria, food particles, and saliva that sticks to the surfaces of your teeth. Plaque produces acids that wear away at tooth enamel, causing cavities and discoloration.

When left untreated, these cavities can cause further damage to the tooth by allowing bacteria to enter and spread more deeply into the tissues beneath the enamel. This process can result in infection, decay, pain, and even loss of teeth if not addressed quickly enough.

Poor Diet

Poor diet is another leading cause of rotten teeth. Everyone should be able to eat whatever they want, but some foods and drinks can be more harmful to your teeth than others.

For example, sugary and acidic foods can damage the enamel on your teeth, making them more vulnerable to decay. Bacteria in the mouth feed on sugar, creating acid that further erodes tooth enamel. Poor diets can also lead to a lack of essential vitamins and minerals for healthy teeth.

Calcium is one such mineral that helps to strengthen tooth enamel, making it more resistant to decay. Without enough calcium in your diet, the enamel on your teeth becomes weakened and more vulnerable to damage.

Dry Mouth

A dry mouth, also known as xerostomia, is a condition where saliva production decreases, leading to an uncomfortable feeling of dryness and a sticky sensation in the mouth. This can be caused by dehydration, certain medications, or underlying medical conditions such as diabetes.

The lack of saliva produced during dry mouth makes it difficult for the body to protect itself against bacteria that cause tooth decay and gum disease. Saliva is essential for keeping teeth healthy because it can wash away food particles that can collect on teeth and neutralizes the acids produced by bacteria in the mouth that break down tooth enamel.

Without sufficient saliva production, these minerals are not replenished, and teeth become more vulnerable to decay.

Fluoride Deficiency

Fluoride is an essential mineral that helps to keep teeth healthy. Fluoride helps to strengthen tooth enamel and prevent cavities. When there is a fluoride deficiency, the tooth enamel can become weaker and more susceptible to decay.

Fluoride deficiency can cause tooth decay due to the increased presence of bacteria in plaque or biofilm, which produce acids that erode the enamel. This erosion creates weakened areas in the teeth, leaving them vulnerable to cavities.

Excessive Consumption Of Alcohol

The mouth becomes dry after drinking alcohol. This reduces saliva production, resulting in a dry mouth. Without enough saliva, bacteria stick to the enamel more easily, raising the risk of cavities.

Alcohol is also high in sugar content which increases the production of bacteria that feed off sugars and produce acid as a byproduct, leading to rotten teeth.


Many people have experienced rotten teeth due to smoking, with tobacco users four times more likely to suffer from it than non-users. Smoking is a major cause of rotten teeth because it reduces saliva flow in the mouth, which helps keep teeth clean and healthy.

Smoking also causes staining on the surface of your teeth, making it harder for them to stay clean. The tar from cigarettes sticks to tooth enamel, wearing it down over time and creating deep grooves where decay-causing bacteria can hide.

Additionally, the nicotine from smoking constricts blood vessels in the gums and reduces their ability to fight off infection caused by plaque build-up.

Gum Disease

Gum disease, also known as periodontal disease, is a serious condition that can cause tooth decay and even lead to the loss of teeth. It is caused by bacteria that live in the plaque on your teeth and gums.

As gum disease progresses, pockets form between the gums and teeth, where more plaque builds up and causes inflammation of the gums. This can cause the gums to pull away from the teeth, making them loose and eventually fall out.

Untreated gum disease can lead to rotten teeth and other oral health issues, such as bad breath, gum recession, tooth sensitivity, and abscesses. It’s best to consult with your dentist to treat gum disease and fix any loose teeth that it may have caused.

Plaque Build-Up

Plaque is a sticky, colorless film that forms on our teeth from bacteria in the mouth. When we eat or drink sugary substances, these bacteria feed off them and produce acids as byproducts. These acids attack tooth enamel, weakening it over time and eventually leading to decay.

In addition, saliva helps bind plaque to the surface of your teeth, making it even harder to remove. If not removed properly through a regular brushing and flossing routine, plaque will accumulate around the gum line and between the teeth, promoting further decay.

As plaque begins to harden, it forms tartar, also known as calculus, an even tougher substance that can only be removed by a dental professional. Without regular visits to the dentist for check-ups and cleanings, these areas of plaque build-up will continue to cause damage to the teeth leading to cavities and rot.

How To Fix Rotten Teeth In The Early Stages

A few cavities in rotten teeth can be easily treated and prevented. You will first need to visit your dentist to evaluate your oral health. They will diagnose any issues with your teeth or gums and develop a treatment plan tailored to you.

Dental fillings are among the most common dental procedures to fix rotten teeth. This helps restore damaged areas of the tooth enamel and is the preferred treatment for mild-to-moderate tooth decay. Your dentist will use a special material to fill the cavity, then polish it to look like your natural teeth.

How To Fix Rotten Teeth In The Advanced Stages

Having rotten teeth can be a painful experience to endure. If left untreated, it can lead to more severe problems requiring costly and invasive dental treatments. When your dentist has diagnosed your decayed teeth as severe, some procedures can be done to save them.

  • Crowns: If you have extensive decay, a dental crown may be recommended. This is an artificial cap that fits over the entire damaged tooth and provides extra strength and protection.

  • Root canal: In some cases, a root canal may be necessary if your tooth has become infected or decayed beyond repair with a filling or crown. During this procedure, your dentist will remove any infected tissue from the inside of the tooth and fill it with a special material.

  • Extraction: This procedure is necessary when the tooth has reached an advanced stage of decay and can no longer be saved with other treatments. Your dentist can replace the rotten tooth with an implant, dental bridge, or dentures. They may also attempt to fix the gap teeth that may result from pulling the rotten tooth.

In addition to these treatments, you should practice proper oral hygiene habits to help keep your teeth healthy. Brush your teeth twice daily using fluoride toothpaste and floss at least once daily.

You should also see your dentist regularly for check-ups and cleanings so that any issues can be identified early on before they become more severe.

Ways To Prevent Rotting Teeth

Having healthy teeth is essential for a variety of reasons, ranging from maintaining a beautiful smile to being able to chew and digest food properly. Unfortunately, rotting teeth is a common issue that can lead to other dental problems, such as gum disease or tooth loss.

Here are several simple ways to help prevent rotting teeth and keep your mouth healthy.

Regular Dental Visits

Regular dental visits are an essential part of maintaining healthy teeth and gums. A regular dental check-up also allows your dentist to identify any potential problems early on, so they can be treated quickly and effectively before they become more significant issues requiring more invasive treatments or procedures.

It’s also best to have your dentist address your current oral health concerns before trying cosmetic dental procedures or even natural teeth whitening.

Reduce Sugary Foods

The sugar in certain foods interacts with bacteria in your mouth to produce acid that wears away the enamel on your teeth, causing them to rot. Reducing your intake of sugary foods can help keep this from happening. Limiting or avoiding candy, sodas, cookies, cakes, and other desserts can help keep your teeth healthy and strong.

Additionally, brushing twice a day with fluoride toothpaste helps remove leftover food particles that could lead to rotting teeth if left unchecked.

Avoid Smoking

Smoking can cause severe damage to your teeth and gums. The nicotine in cigarettes causes a decrease in saliva production which leads to dry mouth.

This also increases plaque build-up on teeth, which can contribute to the staining of the enamel. In addition, smoking weakens the immune system, making it more difficult for your body to fight infection-causing bacteria found in the mouth.

Quitting or reducing smoking can help improve your oral health and reduce the risk of further damage caused by tobacco use.

A Balanced Diet

A balanced diet is an important factor in preventing rotting teeth. Eating a variety of healthy foods can help reduce the risk of tooth decay and cavities and keep your oral health in check. Foods that are high in calcium, such as milk and cheese, help to strengthen tooth enamel which helps protect against decay.

Additionally, crunchy fruits and vegetables like apples and carrots naturally scrub away plaque without damaging your teeth. These same foods also contain vitamins A and C, which help repair any damage that may have already been done by acid or bacteria from sugary snacks or drinks.

Ask For Fluoride Treatments

Fluoride treatments are a type of preventive dental care that helps protect against cavities and tooth decay. Fluoride is a natural mineral found in many foods and water sources that helps to strengthen teeth enamel and makes it more resistant to bacteria.

When applied directly to the teeth, fluoride can help remineralize any weak spots on the enamel surface, making them stronger and less prone to decay. This makes it an ideal preventative treatment for those at risk of cavities and rotten teeth. Consult your dentist to determine which option is best for you.

Consider Getting Your Teeth Professionally Sealed

Sealants are an effective and simple solution for avoiding cavities. They can be applied quickly, without discomfort, and are less expensive than fillings or neglecting decay.

Furthermore, sealed teeth are stronger and healthier than those requiring filling or remaining untreated. It’s especially beneficial for people with deep grooves in their molars, making it difficult to clean them properly with brushing and flossing alone.

When professionally sealed, these deeper areas are covered so they don’t collect food particles or bacteria that could lead to decay over time.

More frequently asked questions about rotten teeth and their telltale signs and treatment options are listed below.

How Can I Fix My Rotten Teeth Naturally?

Fixing your rotten teeth naturally involves a combination of oral care and lifestyle changes.

Options include chewing sugar-free gum, such as xylitol gum, which has been shown to reduce plaque acidity, promote saliva flow, and strengthen tooth enamel. As fluoride prevents cavities and remineralizes enamel, brush your teeth twice daily with fluoride toothpaste, floss daily, and rinse with an antiseptic mouthwash.

Aside from cutting down on sugary and acidic foods, you can also consume vitamin D-rich foods to absorb calcium and phosphate and drink water frequently to wash away food particles from your teeth and promote saliva production.

Can Rotting Teeth Be Saved?

Dental fillings are the common solution when decay has gone beyond its initial stage. These fillings can be made from several materials, such as composite resins in a color that matches your teeth, porcelain, or amalgam, which is a combination of various substances.

However, when a tooth becomes too damaged to save, it may need removal to preserve oral health. If any problems arise, you should see a dentist immediately.

Why Are My Teeth So Rotten?

Having rotten teeth doesn't happen in a day, and poor oral hygiene plays a major role in this to occur. Decay happens when bacteria from plaque cause acid to build up on the teeth. If not cleaned away, this acidic build-up will lead to dental caries or holes in the teeth, gum disease, and even dental abscesses.

Do Rotten Teeth Smell?

The deterioration of enamel and dentine due to tooth decay can cause a foul smell in the mouth. Bacteria that feed on these materials release gas, resulting in an unpleasant scent associated with cavities and rotting teeth.

Brushing your teeth twice a day and using dental floss or a water flosser, plus mouthwash regularly can help prevent the bacteria that cause bad breath and tooth decay.

How Do You Fill A Rotten Tooth?

A decaying tooth can be treated and restored with a crown or veneer, restoring your smile.

If the tooth's root has become infected, however, a root canal may be necessary. This involves removing the decayed root and replacing it with a filling as well as medication to clear any infection. A crown is then placed over the top of the root canal to protect it from further damage.

What Happens If You Don't Fix Rotten Teeth?

Not caring for your damaged teeth and allowing them to rot could eventually develop into gum disease.

Without treatment, bacteria can get into the inner layers of your tooth and reach its pulp. This can cause severe discomfort as your nerves will be exposed to bacteria, resulting in a painful sensation. At that point, there may be no way of reversing the damage.

Can Rotting Teeth Spread?

The spread of decay on one rotten tooth can also affect other teeth. If the decay extends to the interior of the tooth, including nerves and blood vessels, it can cause an infection. These bacteria can also be transferred from person to person through activities, such as kissing, sharing utensils, sneezing, and more.

Can A Rotten Tooth Make You Sick?

If a cavity goes untreated, bacteria can enter the tooth's pulp and cause an infection. This infection can then form an abscess, a pocket of pus that may spread to other parts of the body such as your face, sinuses, neck, jawbone, blood, and even your entire system.

In extreme cases, this dental infection can affect your overall health.

Why Are My Bottom Teeth Rotting?

Rotten teeth are often caused by an excessive intake of sugar- and starch-filled foods, combined with inadequate hygiene practices.

When brushing your teeth is neglected, the bacteria in your mouth feed off these sugars and starches, forming a thin film on the surfaces known as plaque. Your dentist can provide an implant or a dental bridge to replace a decaying tooth. If all upper or lower teeth need replacing, dentures are also available.

Will Your Teeth Rot If You Don't Brush?

Taking proper care of your pearly whites by brushing is essential for oral health.
If you don't brush your teeth twice a day, it can lead to cavities. Bacteria in the mouth feed on food particles and emit an acid that erodes tooth enamel, which causes decay. Plaque will then accumulate, increasing your chances of getting cavities or gum disease.

How Much Sugar Will Rot Your Teeth?

The most frequent source of sugar-containing liquids is sugary soft drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, and juices. Unfortunately, these beverages also contain high levels of acids that can lead to tooth decay.

According to a research study in Finland, consuming 1-2 sugar-sweetened drinks per day significantly increased the risk of cavities by 31%.

How Do You Stop A Rotten Tooth From Hurting?

Decay can wear away your tooth's enamel and dentin, which results in exposing the nerves that cause sensitivity and pain. To stop this discomfort, you should visit a dentist as soon as possible.

Brushing with warm water, maintaining good oral hygiene, abstaining from sugary or acidic foods, and avoiding overly hot and cold foods may offer temporary relief.

How Much Does It Cost To Fix Rotten Teeth?

The price of a dental filling that can fix rotten teeth varies greatly, ranging from as low as $100 to as high as $4,000. The type of material used in the filling will also affect how much it costs. Materials like tooth-colored composite resins, porcelain, or amalgam are all options and can result in different prices.

In addition, the price tag of a root canal can vary depending on what the patient requires, usually costing between $1,000 and $2,000 per tooth. As for crowns, they range in price from $1,100 to $1,500, depending on their type and size.

In Conclusion

Having rotten teeth can be a serious issue, but you should be aware that there are ways to treat and prevent the problem. With proper oral hygiene habits, regular visits to the dentist, and utilizing preventive treatments, you can reduce your risk of developing rotten teeth significantly.

Prevention is always better than cure, so understanding how to care for your teeth can help you avoid more expensive, painful, and embarrassing dental problems and preserve your smile that will last a lifetime.