How to Handle an Infected Tooth
Believe it or not, every mouth has bacteria! Well cared for, healthy mouths however, have a natural protection from the infections that could arise from this bacteria. Unfortunately, sometimes bacteria can penetrate our oral defenses. When this happens, the inside of the tooth, as well as the connected jawbone can become significantly infected (this is called an abscess). If left untreated, an infection can spread to other teeth.
There are three main kinds of dental infections:
- Gingival: Infections that develop in the gums are called gingival infections, related to the common gum disease gingivitis. This is often a mild to moderate issue, and does not tend to affect teeth or supporting structures.
- Periapical: Bacteria can enter a tooth through a cavity or crack and infect the pulp, which contains blood vessels and nerves. If the infection spreads to the tip of the tooth’s root, it can infect the bone and cause an abscess.
- Periodontal: An infection in bone and other tissues that support the tooth is called a periodontal abscess. It’s related to periodontitis gum disease and is more common among adults than children.
Do I Have An Infected Tooth?
Dental pain is the most common indication of a tooth infection. This pain can be sharp, dull, persistent or sporadic.
Other symptoms include:
- Increased dental sensitivity to temperature
- Loose Teeth
- Bad breath
- Bitter taste
- Redness or swelling of gums
- Open sores on gums
- Swelling in the jaw
You may also experience some non-oral problems, such as swollen neck glands, fever, or nausea.
Dentists have a few ways to see if you have an infection or abscess. This can include running a CT scan, an X-ray, or by feeling around the problem area to test sensitivity. Another option is a thermal test, which helps gauge the health of pulp.
Unfortunately, tooth infections rarely go away on their own. If your pain goes away, that’s not necessarily a good sign, as this can indicate that a nerve within your tooth has died. This infection will linger and grow, so professional and timely treatment is essential.
Here are common treatments for infected teeth:
- Incision and drainage: A small cut is made to drain the abscess.
- Root canal: The pulp in your tooth is not essential after a tooth has grown. If it’s infected, it can be removed and the empty space can be filled with inert material. A crown is often added for protection.
- Extraction: Sometimes a tooth isn’t worth saving and a dentist will remove it. The infection is then drained and treated.
- Antibiotics may also be used to kill any remaining harmful bacteria.
Preserve Your Precious Smile
Your teeth, gums and winning smile are too valuable to overlook. Whether your gums are swollen, you have a toothache, need an emergency dentist or simply haven’t had your annual cleaning and exam, the time to act is now! At Belmont Dental Group, our experienced team can help you preserve your smile, or even improve it with cosmetic dentistry. Learn how we can help you look and feel better today!