While most people often underestimate mild dental issues, this should never happen for tooth infections. Typically, a tooth becomes infected when the harmful bacteria that live in the mouth find their way inside the tooth. Poor dental hygiene is the key factor behind teeth infections.
When you don’t brush and floss your teeth well, it encourages the growth of bacteria and plaque in the mouth. If not eliminated on time, the bacteria produce harmful chemicals that attack the tooth’s enamel and cause cavities. The cavities allow bacteria to enter inside the tooth, eventually infecting the tooth’s nerves, blood vessels, and roots.
Other factors that increase your risk of tooth infections include a dry mouth (often caused by old age or certain medications), dental damage like cracks or chips, and high consumption of acidic and sugary items.
Symptoms of tooth infection
Common symptoms of tooth infection include:
- Throbbing tooth pain
- Throbbing pain in the neck, jaw, or ear.
- Cheek swelling
- Sensitivity or discomfort when biting or chewing food
- Sensitivity or pain when eating cold, hot, or sugary items
- Tooth pain that worsens when you lie down
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Foul taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
While some of these signs could mean many things, you should visit a dental clinic near you for professional diagnosis and treatment. The quicker the infection is treated, the lesser the risk of worsening or spreading to other body parts.
How should I know that my tooth infection is spreading?
If you disregard a tooth infection, the infection will likely spread throughout the body and cause the need for complex and costly procedures. In worse conditions, an untreated tooth infection can be life-threatening, especially for patients with underlying health conditions. Common symptoms that a tooth infection is spreading include:
- Bone infection
Typically, a tooth infection will begin spreading to the nearby structures. For instance, you’re at a higher risk of developing bone infection or osteomyelitis, which is the inflammation of the bone or bone marrow due to bacterial infections through your bloodstream. In severe cases, osteomyelitis presents severe discomfort, damages the bone structure, and could be life-threatening. The condition can be treated with antifungals and antibiotics for 4 to 6 weeks.
- Gum disease
Untreated tooth infections can also spread to the gums, causing gum disease. Gum disease is the inflammation of the gum tissue caused by bacterial infection. In its initial stages, gum disease is called gingivitis. If not treated on time, it worsens to a more severe and irreversible condition known as periodontitis. You might have gum disease if you’re experiencing tender, sensitive, swollen, or bleeding gums when eating or brushing.
- Infection of sinuses
Cavernous Sinus Thrombosis refers to the infection of the blood vessels in the sinuses due to a blood clot at the base of your brain. While rare, it’s a life-threatening disorder and should be treated promptly upon diagnosis. The infections spread through the blood veins from teeth, eyes, ears, nose, or around your face, causing more facial disorders. Contact our cosmetic dentist in Midland for cosmetic treatments.
- Cellulitis or skin and fat infections
Cellulitis is the infection of the inner layer of your skin next to fat. Commonly, cellulitis from tooth infection happens in the face. However, they are also common in the anus or breast. For facial infections, you’re likely to experience redness around your cheeks, nose, and eyes. In worse cases, cellulitis can worsen, leading to sepsis or blood infection, which can be life-threatening.
Meningitis is a life-threatening condition that happens when the membranes near the brain and the spinal cord become inflamed. Bacteria from a tooth infection can spread to the bloodstream and surround the brain and spinal cord. Common symptoms of meningitis include fever, headaches, muscles pain, cold hands and feet, diarrhea, and vomiting.
A fever is usually an indication that your body is fighting an infection. An untreated infection can cause high fever (103°F or higher in adults or 102.2°F or higher in children). Seek medical help if you experience fever along with chest pain, confusion, difficulty breathing, seizures, unexplained skin rash, persistent vomiting, or pain when urinating.
How to protect my oral health?
Taking good care of your mouth is the best way to protect your oral and overall health. Use these tips:
- Brush your teeth at least twice daily
- Use a fluoridated toothpaste
- Floss at least once daily
- Limit your intake of sugar and acidic items
- Avoid tobacco products
- Scheduling regular dental checkups and cleanings
- Wearing a mouth guard for bruxism and during sports
- Seeking professional dental care when you develop even the slightest problem.
- Keep hydrated and feed healthier
Schedule an Appointment Today
Are you suspecting you have an infected tooth? Contact Midland Avenue Dental for cosmetic, emergency, and other family dentistry treatments.