If you have ever had an infected tooth, or an abscessed tooth, you know just how painful and frustrating it can be. As bad as an infected tooth is, most people don’t consider one to be an urgent health issue. However, a tooth infection can actually be much more serious than you may think. That’s why it’s so important that you see an emergency dentist right away! Continue reading to learn more about tooth infections, signs that you have one, and how serious they really are.
What Causes a Tooth Infection?
Infections of the teeth usually occur when harmful bacterial penetrate the protective layer of the tooth. There are many different ways that this can occur, including cracks, chips, damaged restorations, and cavities. When bacteria reach the next layer of the tooth, known as the dentin, you are likely to feel sensitivity and discomfort because nerves are exposed. When the infection isn’t treated and is left to progress, the nerves inside the tooth will eventually die, and the pain will perish with them. Even though the pain is gone, you are still looking at a serious infection that requites treatment.
What Are the Signs That You Have an Infected Tooth?
Many different things could indicate that you have an infected tooth, and they can vary. Here are a few of the most common symptoms:
- Pain when you bite or chew
- Exacerbated pain when laying down
- Gum inflammation
- Pain that spreads to your ear, jaw, or neck
- Persistent bad breath
- Intense sensitivity
- Foul taste in your mouth
- Loose tooth
- Symptoms of a fever (sweating, chills, etc.)
Can a Tooth Infection Be Deadly?
Any infection can turn deadly if it progresses to a point of no return. This includes infections of the teeth. This is because harmful bacteria can spread and find its way into the bloodstream. At this point, your body is in danger because your vital organs are at risk of becoming infected as well. In the end, you could end up with heart disease, Ludwig’s Angina, and other serious conditions. In fact, between 2000 and 2008, there were more than 61,000 hospitalizations in the U.S. as a result of tooth infections. Of these patients, 66 of them passed away.
Even though tooth infections are common, they can turn life threatening if they are not treated as soon as possible. Fortunately, they can be avoided by seeing your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups as well as maintaining excellent oral hygiene.
About the Author
Dr. Megan A. Shelton earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and is committed to completing numerous continuing education hours each year. She is currently a member of many professional organizations, including the American Academy of Systemic Health and the American Dental Association. For more information on tooth infections or to schedule an urgent appointment with Dr. Shelton, visit her website or call (760) 388-6773.