One of the most painful toothaches you’ll ever experience, an infected tooth interrupts your life and won’t easily surrender to pain medications. Heed this painful call to action, because an untreated infection is a potentially life-and-death situation. An abscessed tooth, which a tooth with an infection around it or beneath it, produces throbbing, constant pain. What’s worse, the infection can spread to other teeth, your jaw and other parts of your body.
An infected tooth or abscess causes noticeable pain and discomfort in or around your tooth. Pressure, swelling and throbbing pain all affect your daily life — whenever you eat, chew, swallow or speak. Because of the swelling, you may feel the pain every time you close your mouth, inadvertently putting pressure on the affected tooth.
Because of the potential for infections to spread to your jaw and other parts of your body, you’re advised to have any tooth infection symptoms evaluated immediately. Depending on the location and severity of your infection, your family dentist at Albany County Dental Associates has the tools and techniques to try to save the natural tooth and relieve you of pain.
The Causes of Tooth Infection
An infection can quickly spread throughout your body, eating away at bone tissue and causing nerve death where it goes. It can even cause a life-threatening condition called sepsis. When you have a tooth infection, it’s called an abscess. There are two types:
- If it forms at the gum line, it’s called a periodontal abscess.
- If it forms at the tip of the root of your tooth, it’s called a periapical abscess.
A tooth infection occurs for multiple reasons. As long as you practice good dental health habits, you may be able to prevent an infection from starting. And if you see your dentist in the capital area twice a year, you can stop it before it gets too painful. Causes include:
- Prior dental work, such as large fillings, that goes bad
- Severe gum disease, resulting in bone loss that provides a pathway for bacteria to enter the inner tooth
- Poor dental hygiene or lack of dental checkups
- A diet high in sugary snacks or drinks
- Root canal infection after a root canal treatment, which is rare
- Wisdom tooth infection due to impacted wisdom teeth
Symptoms of Infected Tooth
Like most infections, a tooth infection can have serious and painful symptoms and consequences. If you notice any of these symptoms, check in immediately with your Albany County dentist or area emergency room:
- Sudden temperature sensitivity from hot or cold drinks or food, or even from cold air
- Severe, ongoing, throbbing pain that you can sometimes feel in your face, neck, jawbone or ears
- Fever higher than 100 degrees
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Swollen, tender or painful lymph nodes in the neck
- Swelling in your cheek, gums or face — swelling can become serious if it makes it difficult to swallow or breathe
- A foul-smelling or foul-tasting, salty fluid in your mouth that comes with a sudden relief in pain, as it can signal that the abscess has burst, though it still requires treatment
Treatment of Tooth Infection
After a physical examination and x-rays, your Albany-area family dentist presents treatment options. If the infection is contained, you may just need a thorough cleaning to excavate any infected, compromised material. Antibiotics, extraction of the tooth, root canal treatment or dental surgery are options to eliminate the infection and stabilize the compromised tooth. Medication in the form of gels or pellets combat the infection and your pain.
Once you’ve healed, you may require a further treatment. In the case of a wisdom tooth infection or a severely compromised tooth, your dentist may recommend a root canal, periodontal surgery or extraction. Altered diet and medications may be required for a brief period of time to ensure the treatment has the best results.
Prevention of An Infected Tooth
The infected tooth may be compromised, but it can also affect neighboring teeth as the infection begins to spread. Because of this, not only is immediate evaluation and treatment necessary, but you need to continue your vigilance and dental health habits. Preventing another tooth infection gives you the best outcome for the future.
Good prevention techniques include drinking fluoridated water, keeping up with regular dental checkups, avoiding sugary foods and drinks, and implementing proper dental hygiene, such as:
- Using correct brushing techniques twice a day
- Flossing at least once a day
- Rinsing with an antiseptic mouthwash
Next to tooth trauma, an infected tooth is one of the most painful dental conditions. Your dentist at Albany County Dental Associates works to quickly assess, diagnose and cure your tooth infection so you can get back to your normal daily routine. Contact Albany Dental if you notice any symptoms of an infection.