Tooth Infection Symptoms and Treatment Options

Thursday, December 8, 2022
Tooth Infection Symptoms and Treatment Options

Are you experiencing tooth pain or sensitivity? You could have a tooth infection, or it could be symptoms of a tooth abscess.

Read on to learn about tooth infections and abscesses and why it’s important to seek treatment as soon as possible, so they don’t lead to more serious health issues.

What Causes a Tooth Infection?

A man holds his hand to his jaw, his mouth open, suffering from a tooth infection.

Tooth infections commonly start with tooth decay, the destruction of the tooth enamel by plaque, a sticky film of bacteria constantly forming on teeth. The bacteria feed off the sugary foods we eat, forming harmful acids that damage tooth enamel, causing cavities.

Once bacteria invade the tooth’s inner pulp chamber through the cavity, or the tooth cracks or chips, you can experience a painful toothache from the infection in this sensitive inner part of the tooth.

Tooth infection begins small and progressively becomes more serious. That’s why people may experience only a few symptoms initially. These symptoms of tooth infections and tooth abscesses are similar and may include:

  • Tooth sensitivity when exposed to hot or cold temperatures.
  • A bad taste in the mouth or bad breath.
  • Severe, constant, throbbing toothache that may radiate to the jawbone, neck, or ear.
  • Sensitivity to pressure when biting or chewing.
  • Tender and/or swollen lymph nodes.
  • Fever.
  • General unwell feeling.
  • Difficulties opening the mouth and swallowing.

It’s important to catch a tooth infection early while the tooth can still be treated and recovered. At this stage, it is called reversible pulpitis.

What Causes a Tooth Abscess?

 Penn Dental Medicine endodontists get ready to treat a patient with tooth abscess symptoms.

A tooth abscess occurs when an infection inside the tooth spreads to the tooth’s pulp chamber and inflammation begins. At a certain point, the irritation is considered irreversible (irreversible pulpitis). The pulp dies and an abscess (or pocket of pus) develops.

Not only is the abscess painful, but the infection can now spread from the tooth to the gums, sinuses, jawbone—even into the brain. At this point, treatment is necessary to stop the infection.

Treatments for Infection and Tooth Abscesses

The treatment goals are to eliminate the infection and/or abscess. If you think you have symptoms of a tooth abscess or an infection, it’s important to schedule an appointment with an endodontist at Penn Dental Medicine immediately.

An endodontist is a specialist who concentrates on saving diseased teeth. They may use any of the following treatments, depending on the severity of your condition:

  • Open and Drain the Tooth Abscess.

The endodontist makes a small incision into the abscess to drain the pus and then washes the area out with salt water.

  • Prescribe Antibiotics for the Tooth Infection.

If the infection is limited, antibiotics may not be necessary. But when it has spread to the other teeth and gums, antibiotics are required to prevent it from progressing further.

  • Perform Root Canal Treatment.

Root canal treatment is a procedure to eliminate infection and save your tooth. The process involves removing the diseased tooth pulp tissue and draining the abscess.

Once the tooth is cleaned out to prevent subsequent infection, the endodontist fills the pulp chamber and seals off the tooth. The tooth may also be capped with a crown to keep it strong. A restored tooth can last a lifetime when it is cared for properly.

  • Tooth Extraction.

The dentist will only pull the tooth when it cannot be saved through root canal treatment. After extraction, the tooth should be replaced to prevent other teeth from shifting to fill in the gap. A dental implant, bridge, or dentures are usually used.

What Can You Do to Avoid Tooth Infections?

Practice Good Oral Health With Plaque Removal

A young woman smiles because her tooth infection didn’t turn into a tooth abscess.

  • Drink water to keep your mouth hydrated and clean (use fluoridated water, if possible).
  • Use dental floss once a day.
  • Brush your teeth at least twice a day and replace your toothbrush regularly.
  • Visit a dentist twice a year for cleanings and exams

Visiting the dentist is important because cleanings help with plaque removal and the dentist can keep an eye out for any potential infections. However, at Penn Dental Medicine, we know that some people may avoid the dentist because of fear or worries about affordability. Take a moment to download our free ebook, “The Affordability of Truly Comprehensive Dental Care,” to learn more about how our patient-centered, dental-care philosophy provides comfortable, quality care that meets your budget.

Get Expert Dental Care for Tooth Infection Dangers at Penn Dental Medicine

If you are experiencing any symptoms of tooth abscess and infection, you need to be seen by a dental professional before it becomes severe. Philadelphia’s Penn Dental Medicine dentists have the skills and tools to provide effective treatment for tooth infection, gum disease, and tooth decay. Schedule an appointment today. If you think you may need an emergency dentist, call our office at 215-898-8965 and explain your symptoms.

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