If you’ve ever had a toothache, you know how much harder it can make things. Eating, sleeping, working, and just making it through your day can be daunting tasks when your tooth is in constant pain. There are a variety of different things that can cause a toothache, such as dental procedures, trauma to the tooth, cavities, gum disease, or a cracked tooth. Though not all causes of toothaches are that bad, tooth infections can be bad news for your overall health. Read on to learn about how a tooth infection can be harmful, signs that you have one, and how to prevent it.
Can a Tooth Infection Be Deadly?
A tooth infection occurs when bacteria enter the innermost part of the tooth, which is called the pulp. Deep cavities, chips, or cracks give this bacteria access to the tooth. Getting the infection treated as soon as possible is key to preventing additional damage. If you don’t seek out prompt treatment, the bacteria can get into your bloodstream and damage other parts of the body.
One way it can harm your body is through an infection in the bloodstream called sepsis. Though this condition is potentially life-threatening, many of the bacterial problems that can cause sepsis can be treated or prevented.
Signs You Have a Tooth Infection
There are several signs of tooth infections that you should look out for, including:
- A toothache – The pain will likely be constant, severe, throbbing, and can spread to your neck, ear, or jawbone.
- Pain or discomfort – If you feel increased pain, discomfort, or sensitivity when consuming foods and drinks that are hot or cold, chewing, or biting, this may be a sign of a tooth infection.
- Fever – You may develop a fever as a result of your body trying to kill the bacteria that’s causing the infection.
- Swelling – Neck, face, lymph node, or cheek swelling is a common sign of an infection and may cause difficulty breathing or swallowing.
- Foul odor – Your tooth might be infected if you have a bad smell in your mouth.
6 Ways to Prevent a Tooth Infection
Though your dentist may be able to repair an infected tooth with a virtually painless root canal, its best to avoid it in the first place. A few ways that you can prevent a tooth infection from arising include:
- Wear a mouthguard while playing contact sports or if you have bruxism (tooth grinding)
- Use mouthwash to remove bacteria you missed while brushing and flossing
- Visit your dentist biannually for checkups and cleanings
- Brush twice per day for two minutes each time
- Floss every night before bed
An infected tooth is never any fun to deal with. The above information about tooth infections should help you avoid a life-threatening condition so you can maintain excellent oral health and a lovely, bright smile!
About the Author
Dr. Renee Corbitt is a talented dentist who received her Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Texas Health Science Center San Antonio Dental School in 1986. She takes pride in using her skills in the dental health field to give her Fort Worth patients the gorgeous, healthy smiles they’ve always wanted. If you have one of the signs of a tooth infection, Dr. Corbitt will do what she can to repair the tooth and get your smile back on track. Visit her website or call her office at (817) 294-8821 to make an appointment or for more information.