Tooth infection should not be taken lightly. If left untreated, it may degenerate into more dangerous health problems.

Tooth infection is often a result of bacterial infection, which occurs inside or under the tooth when a tooth breaks or when there is a build-up of dental decay. The most susceptible area to infection is the dental pulp, which contains the blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissues. Whenever there is a dental infection, immediate tooth infection treatment must be administered. Otherwise, the infection may spread from the affected spot to the surrounding bones and supporting tissues.

Symptoms of Tooth Infection

Symptoms of tooth infection include:

  •       Fever
  •       Swelling in the jaw
  •       Swelling in the gum
  •       Swollen neck glands
  •       Bad breath
  •       Bitter taste in the mouth
  •       Sensitivity to pressure
  •       Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold
  •       Pain when eating
  •       Gnawing or throbbing toothache

As stated above, a tooth infection can spread from the spot of infection to other parts of the body like the jaw, neck, sinuses, brain, etc.

Effects of Tooth Infection

An untreated tooth infection may lead to more severe health conditions, such as:

Sepsis

If an immediate tooth infection treatment is not given to a patient suffering from a tooth infection, the bacterial infection can spread to the blood leading to a medical condition known as “sepsis.”

Sepsis is a type of blood infection common in people with a weakened body immune system or people undergoing hospital treatment. People who are either very young or very old are also susceptible to sepsis.

The common symptoms of sepsis are rapid heart rate and high fever. The heartbeat rate may rise to about 90 beats per minute or more and the body temperature may rise as high as 101.3°F. Patients with sepsis may also exhibit difficulty breathing at 20 breaths per minute.

Other signs and symptoms of progressing sepsis include mental confusion and mottling skin. If the blood pressure is too low, the patient may experience septic shock. Sepsis can either kill or cause disability. Therefore, prevention or early diagnosis and treatment are crucial to survival. Sepsis may be treated with antibiotics, however pus in the infected area requires surgery.

Meningitis

A tooth infection can also lead to life-threatening meningitis – an inflammation of the membranes near the brain and spinal cord. For instance, if a tooth infection is left untreated, it can spread to the bloodstream, spinal cord and brain. People with compromised body immune systems are highly susceptible to meningitis and may require lengthy hospitalization.

Ludwig’s Angina

This occurs when the tooth infection spreads to the throat leading to an extreme swelling or inflammation of the airway and may lead to suffocation. Common signs and symptoms of Ludwig’s Angina include:

  •       Fatigue
  •       Confusion
  •       Weakness
  •       Fever
  •       Neck and ear pain
  •       Trouble speaking
  •       Difficulty breathing

Ludwig’s Angina may be treated with antibiotics to eliminate the bacteria. But in a more serious case, there may be a need to insert a breathing tube down the patient’s throat.

Causes of Tooth Infection

According to the American Dental Association (ADA), most tooth infections are caused by a cracked tooth or an untreated tooth decay. Tooth decay results from poor dental hygiene practices.

Bacteria builds up from unremoved food chunks and plaques in the teeth, which decays over time resulting in dental caries. When bacteria penetrate the enamel, they infect the pulp tissue leading to an infection known as a tooth abscess. Tooth abscess requires tooth infection treatment from your dentist and any delay in the treatment would worsen the infection.

Any of the teeth can become infected since all of them have sensitive tissues that are susceptible to bacterial infection. Furthermore, research reveals that the molars, especially those with deep grooves, are more susceptible to bacterial infection.

In some cases, the bacterial infection spreads to the jaw bone resulting in the need for extensive dental surgery. It is very important to consult your dentist immediately if you notice any sign and symptom of a tooth infection.

Tooth Infection Treatment Options

To treat tooth infection, your dentist cleans out the bacterial infection before repairing the tooth. This is known as root canal treatment. This treatment requires drilling of the infected tooth to get to the infected area. The bacterial infection is removed, and an antibacterial solution is used to clean out the root canal. After that, a dental crown is placed over the affected tooth for protection. Depending on the severity of the infection, your dentist may also prescribe antibiotics to treat the infection.

Tooth Infection Prevention

It’s a popular saying that prevention is better than a cure. Moreover, no one wants to encounter the disruption and pain from a tooth infection. This makes tooth infection prevention an important part of the tooth infection treatment plan.

Preventions include:

  •       Brushing and flossing at least twice daily to get rid of the bacteria that may cause dental decay.
  •       Observing good and proper oral habits and lifestyles.
  •       Avoiding habits and actions that may break the teeth, such as using the teeth as tools.
  •       Visiting the dental office for regular dental check-ups and cleaning.

If you notice any sign or symptoms of a toothache or tooth infection, visit your dentist immediately for tooth infection treatment or you may risk the infection spreading to your jaw, neck, blood, or brain. Try to observe good oral hygiene practices to prevent tooth infections as much as possible. This helps protect your teeth from the harmful bacteria. If you are experiencing a tooth infection in Houston, please contact Edge Dental Houston today for more information.