It can be all too easy to ignore a minor irritation caused by an infection in the mouth. Your tooth may ache or your gums may look inflamed, but the pain may not yet be serious enough to seek out an appointment with Dr. Christopher Green. However, it’s important to never put off receiving dental services for any type of tooth infection. The infection could spread beyond the tooth, beyond the gums and into other parts of your body. Your health and your very life could be compromised, even if you never experience much by way of tooth pain.
To stay healthy and keep your mouth healthy, it’s important that you learn to recognize the symptoms of an infection that has started to spread beyond the tooth.
Understanding a tooth abscess
Just what is an abscess in your tooth? Put simply, it is a pocket of infection inside your tooth. While it can occur anywhere inside of the tooth, it is most often seen at the very tip of the root. There are typically some very clear indicators of an abscessed tooth, including the following.
- A persistent toothache that intensifies
- Rapid onset and extreme sensitivity to cold or hot
- Sensitivity felt when biting or chewing
- Swelling on one side of the face
- Seeing a pocket of pus, often taking on the appearance of a large pimple, on the gum line near the affected tooth
- Swollen lymph nodes beneath the jaw
If you reach out for treatment in a timely manner, a tooth abscess may not get too severe. When you come in for emergency tooth repair, Dr. Green will drain the infection and may need to perform root canal therapy on the tooth.
Signs of a spreading infection
There are several signs that your infection is spreading beyond the abscess. If it ruptures, you may notice a sudden metallic or salty taste in your mouth. The pain may be relieved at this point, and it can be easy to think that the infection is no longer a concern. In reality, a rupture could just be one of the very first signs an infection that is spreading.
If the infection enters your bloodstream, this can lead to a serious condition known as sepsis.
Other signs an infection is spreading could include the following.
- A general feeling of being unwell. You may have a persistent headache, pain in your jaw and you may also have an earache.
- You may feel fatigued and dizzy.
- You may develop a fever. Fever is your body’s response to an infection in the body. While a fever is a natural and normal response that can help you heal, if your temperature stays consistently over 101F, this could be a sign of sepsis developing.
- Seeing swelling is a normal side effect of having an abscess. If it persists and the pain is unbearable, you need to seek out emergency treatment. Untreated swelling could start to impact your ability to breath and swallow.
- Rapid heart and breathing rates are indicative of sepsis taking hold in your body. If this does happen, Dr. Green recommends that you seek out emergency medical treatment.
- Stomach pain, accompanied by vomiting and diarrhea are very common when you’re struggling with sepsis, and can quickly further the dehydration that is common with sepsis.
Preventing the spread of infection
Dr. Kacos, a dentist from Shreveport’s Dentist, adds that there are several things that you can do to avoid developing an abscess. Perhaps the most important thing that you can do is to maintain good oral health habits, including the following.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day, flossing at least once a day
- Use a good quality mouthwash
- Replace your toothbrush every 3-4 months
- Visit your dentist, to keep up with your examinations and cleanings
Any signs of inflammation, sensitivity or swelling should be addressed as soon as you notice it. This will allow your dentist to prescribe antibiotics if needed, and to treat the infection before it is allowed to spread beyond the infected tooth. If decay or gum disease is present, your dentist may use an intraoral camera tool to show you what’s going on in your mouth. From there, you will better understand your level of oral health and make an informed decision about your treatment.
If you have an abscess or tooth pain that you’d like to get relief from, call Green Dental Care to schedule your appointment.