Just like any infection, a tooth infection can spread to other parts of your body. If you think you have a tooth infection, you should see a dentist right away. This is a serious condition that can endanger your health. If you’re wondering if your tooth infection is spreading, here are a few signs to look out for.
What is a Tooth Infection?
Before you can know if your tooth infection has spread, it’s helpful to know what a tooth infection is. A tooth infection is an invasion of your tooth or gums by harmful bacteria. While good and bad bacteria are all around us all the time, an infection occurs when harmful bacteria overwhelm parts of our body. The bacteria multiply quickly in a small area, and the body’s defenses can’t keep up. As the body tries to fight off the bacteria, the area will swell, and you’ll notice redness and, usually, pain. As the infection progresses, you may also notice whitish or yellowish pus, which forms as your body’s microscopic defensive fighters, called neutrophils, die.
A tooth infection, also called a dental abscess, can form in and around many parts of the tooth and gums. This includes the tooth root, which is underneath the gums, as well as the gums themselves, the tooth itself, and the spaces between the tooth and the gums.
Causes of a Tooth Infection
A tooth infection is caused by large numbers of bacteria, but how do these bacteria become such a problem? Tooth infections can form from a variety of factors. Bacteria live on our teeth constantly, and they feed on starches and sugars, and produce acids that damage our teeth. If these bacteria aren’t brushed and flossed away regularly, they’ll multiply. First, they’ll create dental caries, or cavities, which are small holes in teeth. As the cavity worsens, it can expose the softer, more sensitive dentin, which is a living structure in the middle of the tooth. As bacteria eat into the dentin, they can multiply and produce toxins that damage the tooth, which bring in your body’s defensive fighters. Then, an infection has started.
This process can also occur if an injury has exposed softer parts of the tooth, or if you have a wound in your gums. For example, if your tooth has cracked or chipped, bacteria can invade through this opening. Or, if you’ve had dental surgery, bacteria may enter through the surgery site. This is why it’s important to follow your dentist’s instructions closely after dental surgery, and keep the surgery site clean. It’s also important to see your dentist right away if your tooth has cracked or chipped, or you have another injury. Bacteria can cause big problems, and it’s important to address these problems as soon as you can.
Symptoms of a Tooth Infection
As previously mentioned, you’ll probably notice some pain and redness if you have a tooth infection, but there are a few other signs you might notice. Here’s a list of all the potential symptoms from oral infection.
- Redness and swelling
- A collection of pus
- Pain, especially when touching the affected area
- Tooth sensitivity
- Tooth discoloration
- A bad taste in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath
Remember, you may not experience all of these symptoms. If you notice any of these signs, you should see a dentist right away. Tell your dentist you think you may have a tooth infection, and they should be able to schedule you for an emergency appointment.
Has My Tooth Infection Spread?
If you’ve noticed these signs in areas outside of the initial infection site, you may be wondering if your tooth infection is no longer limited to just one tooth. A tooth infection can spread to other parts of your body if it isn’t addressed. The infection can spread to your cheek, and you might notice a lot of swelling and pain on the side of your face. Or, it may spread to your lymph nodes, which will cause swelling and pain under your jaw. The infection might also spread to your inner ear, sinuses, or even your brain or heart. All of these conditions are serious, and you should see a dentist or a doctor to address them right away.
Signs Your Tooth Infection Has Spread
Once infection spreads and takes hold in other areas of your body, you may begin to notice other, more general signs of infection set in. Any or all of the following symptoms could indicate serious spreading of infection beyond your infected tooth:
- Swelling and pain in your cheek, neck, ears, or sinuses
- Chills and sweats
If you are experiencing any of these red flag signs, your body may be fighting the infection in other parts of your body. If you think your tooth infection has spread, it’s extremely important to seek help as soon as possible. This infection won’t go away on its own, and your dentist or doctor can give you antibiotics that will help your body fight the infection.
If you think you have a tooth infection and you live in the Las Vegas area, schedule an appointment at your nearest BDG office right now. Getting the condition resolved as soon as you can will stop the condition from getting worse.