The Hidden Dangers of Untreated Tooth Decay

Let’s face it: Many people don’t like going to the dentist. They know there will probably be some discomfort, whether the appointment is for a routine dental cleaning or a more extensive deep cleaning or procedure. But most people put their reluctance aside and go anyway. They know it’s important and are willing to get through the discomfort.

However, there are many others who simply refuse to go to the dentist at all. Their fear is so great they can’t overcome it. And their teeth generally broadcast this fear to everyone they see. What they may not know are the extreme consequences they are chancing from the hidden danger of untreated tooth decay.

Tooth decay threatens more than the teeth. Infections that begin in the teeth often spread to the rest of the body. There is a heightened risk of other dangerous diseases and the immune system is weakened. There is much more at stake than teeth that simply don’t look clean. 

In this article, we will dive into some of these dangers, both hidden and obvious.

Dangers Of Tooth Decay

When bacteria isn’t removed from the teeth on a regular basis, acids are formed in your mouth. Soon, the teeth are coated with plaque, a sticky film that eats away at teeth. Next comes decay, rotting teeth, and gum disease. Brushing and flossing at home can remove a lot of the bacteria every day, but a thorough cleaning by a dental hygienist is the only way to remove all of it, along with the plaque that builds up. If those cleanings don’t happen, teeth rot and the gums become infected. 

There are two kinds of dangers to neglecting your teeth: Dangers that are obvious signs of such neglect and dangers that are hidden. Let’s look at both of these types of hazards.

The Obvious Dangers:

Cavities, Abscesses, and Pain

Once the bacteria begins to build up on the teeth, the acids released start their destruction by eating away the tooth enamel. Cavities–holes in the teeth–result. Untreated cavities soon expose the nerve in the tooth leading to extreme pain, more infection, and tooth loss.

Gum Disease

Once plaque starts to build up on the teeth, it hardens into tartar. This irritates the gums, leading to inflammation. The more bacteria that is left on the teeth, the more plaque builds up, and soon the gums are infected. Depending on the extent of the infection, it could take a lengthy process to improve your gum health.

Bad Breath

Those nasty bacteria that build up on the teeth also release sulfur into your mouth. This results in a noticeable smell to anyone around you. Bad breath is embarrassing and can keep people from interacting with you. 

The Hidden Dangers:


Pneumonia is a dangerous infection of the lungs caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi that get into the lungs through the mouth. Bacterial pneumonia can occur after you’ve had a viral cold or the flu but it can also enter the lungs as a result of poor oral health. That bacteria that builds up on the teeth over time can kill you by entering the lungs. 


There is a dangerous synergy between poor oral health and diabetes. People who have diabetes are often likely to develop gum disease due to a lowered ability to fight infection. But if you neglect your teeth, you can develop diabetes, too, due to the increased inflammation in the body. 

According to the World Health Organization, “About 422 million people worldwide have diabetes, the majority living in low-and middle-income countries, and 1.5 million deaths are directly attributed to diabetes each year. Both the number of cases and the prevalence of diabetes have been steadily increasing over the past few decades.”

Heart Disease

The leading cause of death in the U.S. is heart disease. Blood flow is restricted through the arteries to the heart and this restriction is caused by plaque. This killer builds up on teeth that are not cleaned regularly and eventually, the plaque can move into the rest of the body, including the heart. 

Rheumatoid Arthritis

The nasty bacteria we’ve already discussed several times here also increase the risk of rheumatoid arthritis. This form of arthritis is an autoimmune disease that results in inflammation of the joints. Once bacteria from the mouth have entered the bloodstream, the inflammation makes RA symptoms even more severe.

Brain Abscesses

Bacteria from the mouth can travel into the bloodstream and then to the brain. This can sometimes even result in a brain abscess.

A study done through the University of Copenhagen shows that there is a connection between diseases in the oral cavity and diseases in the rest of the body. In fact, in more than half of patients admitted with brain abscesses to Rigshospitalet, a highly specialized hospital in Denmark, the condition was caused by bacteria from the mouth.

Low Self-Esteem and Depression

It’s impossible to hide badly eroded teeth over time. As they worsen and more teeth are riddled with cavities or even lost, people see the damage done. Bad breath from the decay is embarrassing, too. People who suffer from a situation like this in their mouth often also suffer from low self-esteem and isolation. Another extreme result can be depression. 

The Dangers of Poor Dental Health Are Real. We Can Help!

In this article, we have outlined the many serious dangers of poor oral hygiene. It is critical that you adopt a solid routine for keeping your teeth clean and healthy, including regular dental visits for professional cleanings to rid the teeth of dangerous bacteria and plaque. If you have children, it is your responsibility to teach them the importance of these things, too. 

Some of the diseases discussed in this article can be prevented by simply overcoming the fear of going to the dentist. Here at TLC Dental Center in Cherry Hill, NJ, we can help you with this. Dr. Julie Kardon uses the latest sedation techniques for a pleasant, stress-free, and relaxing dental visit. 

We can address any tooth decay you may currently have, provide the necessary treatment, and help ensure it is prevented in the future. We’re here to ensure that you get the best dental care available and keep your teeth as healthy as possible.

Contact us now to schedule your appointment!