Tooth infections, also known as dental abscesses, are a common dental problem that can cause significant discomfort and potentially lead to serious health issues if left untreated.
Understanding the symptoms of a tooth infection, how it is treated, and when to seek professional dental care is crucial for maintaining your oral health and overall well-being. In this blog post, we will explore:
- What a tooth infection is
- Tooth infection symptoms
- The available treatments
- When it’s time to call your dentist for help
Keep reading to get your tooth abscess under control!
What Is a Tooth Infection?
A tooth infection, or dental abscess, occurs when bacteria invade the pulp, the innermost part of a tooth that houses nerves and blood vessels. This infection can result from various factors, such as untreated cavities, cracked teeth, gum disease, or dental procedures.
When bacteria infiltrate the pulp, they multiply rapidly, leading to the formation of pus and an abscess. This accumulation of pus can put pressure on the surrounding tissues, causing intense pain and other symptoms.
6 Symptoms of a Tooth Infection
Are you wondering if you are dealing with an infected tooth? Here are 6 of the most common signs.
1) Severe Toothache
One of the most common and noticeable symptoms of a tooth infection is a sharp and throbbing toothache. This pain is typically localized to the infected tooth and can be triggered or worsened by chewing, temperature changes, or pressure on the tooth.
2) Swelling of the Face or Jaw
As the infection progresses, you may notice swelling in the affected area. Swelling can be mild at first but may become more pronounced as the abscess enlarges. It can lead to facial or jaw swelling, which may be accompanied by redness and warmth around the affected tooth.
3) Sensitivity to Hot and Cold
Tooth sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures is a common early sign of a tooth infection. You might experience a sharp, shooting pain when consuming hot or cold foods and beverages.
4) Bad Breath and Unpleasant Taste
Bacteria in the abscess produce foul-smelling gases, which can result in bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth that persists despite regular oral hygiene practices.
5) Pus Drainage
In some cases, a tooth infection can cause the abscess to rupture, leading to pus drainage. This can alleviate some of the pressure and provide temporary relief from pain, but it’s crucial to understand that this does not mean the infection has resolved. Professional dental care is still needed.
6) Fever and General Discomfort
If the infection spreads beyond the tooth and into the surrounding tissues, you may develop a fever and experience general discomfort or malaise.
How a Tooth Infection Is Treated
Treating a tooth infection typically involves a combination of dental procedures and medications. The specific treatment plan depends on the severity of the infection and its underlying cause. Here are some common approaches:
- Drainage of the Abscess: When an abscess is present, the first step is often to drain it. Your dentist will make an incision to release the pus and relieve pressure. This can provide immediate relief from pain and facilitate the healing process.
- Root Canal Therapy: For teeth with infected pulp, root canal therapy may be necessary. This procedure involves removing the infected pulp, cleaning the root canal, and sealing it to prevent further infection. A dental crown is often placed on the treated tooth to restore its strength and function.
- Antibiotics: In some cases, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to help combat the infection, especially if it has spread beyond the tooth. Antibiotics are typically used in conjunction with other treatments to ensure the infection is completely eliminated.
- Pain Management: Over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen or acetaminophen can help manage the pain associated with a tooth infection. Your dentist may also prescribe stronger pain medications if necessary.
When to Call Your Dentist
Knowing when to seek professional dental care is essential when dealing with a tooth infection. Delaying treatment can lead to complications and exacerbate your symptoms. Here are some signs that indicate it’s time to call your dentist:
- Persistent Severe Pain: If you’re experiencing intense and persistent tooth pain that doesn’t improve with over-the-counter pain relievers, it’s a clear sign that you should contact your dentist.
- Swelling and Fever: Swelling of the face or jaw, along with a fever, suggests that the infection may have spread. This is a serious concern, and you should seek immediate dental care.
- Difficulty Swallowing or Breathing: In rare cases, a severe dental abscess can cause difficulty in swallowing or breathing due to extensive swelling. This is a medical emergency, and you should go to the nearest emergency room.
- Dental Trauma: If you’ve had recent dental trauma or a cracked tooth and suspect an infection, it’s essential to consult your dentist promptly to prevent complications.
- Pus Drainage: While spontaneous pus drainage may temporarily alleviate symptoms, it does not eliminate the infection. It’s crucial to see your dentist to address the underlying issue.
Get Your Abscessed Tooth Diagnosed
A tooth infection can be a painful and concerning dental problem. Recognizing the symptoms and understanding when to seek professional dental care is crucial for timely treatment and preventing complications. If you experience severe tooth pain, swelling, or any other concerning symptoms associated with a tooth infection, don’t hesitate to contact your dentist.
Do you need speedy dental treatment from a team you can trust? Wayzata Dental can help. Contact us today to set up your appointment.