Exploring the Most Common Diseases Behind Tooth Decay

April 6, 2021

oral health, tooth decay

Tooth decay is a serious problem as it can lead to major complications. Unfortunately, some diseases increase the risk of developing tooth decay. No matter your health history, you can reduce your risk of tooth decay by having your teeth professionally cleaned several times a year and brushing and flossing regularly.

Why Tooth Decay Matters

Untreated cavities and decay can lead to tooth abscesses, damage to teeth or broken teeth, issues with chewing, pain, pus or swelling by the teeth, or tooth loss that leads to the teeth changing positions.

If the tooth decay or cavities become severe, you can even develop:

  • Pain that worsens to the point of interfering with daily life
  • Nutrition problems or weight loss from not being able to chew or eat, or not being able to do so without pain
  • Tooth abscesses that can cause other infections
  • Tooth loss

With that in mind, it is helpful to be aware of what diseases increase your risk of developing tooth decay.


Anemia affects oral health by reducing the body’s red blood cells. This can result in tooth decay as well as the gums fading to a whiter color or just paler pink. The mouth’s mucous membranes and the tongue may also lose color.

Autoimmune Diseases

Those with autoimmune diseases may also have a higher risk of tooth decay. With these conditions, the body attacks portions of itself, which can include the salivary glands or other systems.

One example is Sjogren’s syndrome, which reduces saliva production. This encourages tooth decay, as one of the roles of saliva is to protect the teeth.


People with diabetes have a higher risk of tooth decay, as well as gum disease and oral infections. There is also a higher risk of lesions in the mouth and dry mouth, along with slower healing.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders can also promote tooth decay for several reasons. When your body does not receive proper nutrition, it becomes harder for your mouth to remain healthy. In the case of eating disorders that involve vomiting, that vomiting brings acid up to the mouth. Once in the mouth, the acid breaks down tooth enamel. This can lead to issues like worn teeth, bad breath, or swelling in the glands, throat, and mouth, in addition to tooth decay.

Oral Cancer

Oral cancer can lead to a range of mouth and dental complications, including tooth decay. The best counter is to catch it early, which you can do via regular dental exams.

Other Risk Factors for Tooth Decay

In addition to the above diseases, there are some other risk factors that can increase the chances of tooth decay, including:

  • Age: Cavities in the U.S. are most common among children and older adults
  • Dry Mouth: Saliva is protective, so not having enough can be harmful for the teeth
  • Food and Drinks: Foods that stick to your teeth for long increase the risk of tooth decay. Examples include dried fruit, sugar, soda, ice cream, milk, and hard candy
  • Frequent Eating and Drinking: Even just frequently snacking or sipping on something other than water can increase the risk
  • Insufficient Brushing: Plaque can form quickly
  • Tooth Location: It is more common for decay to affect the back teeth

No matter your risk factors, you should work closely with Dr. Dhiraj Sharma and follow his advice to reduce the risk of tooth decay.

To learn more about tooth decay prevention or to schedule an appointment, contact us today.

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