How To Tell If You Have A Tooth Infection

signs of a tooth infection

There’s nothing worse than trying to enjoy a family meal and having tooth pain make an appearance. Now you’re left struggling to decide between eating those homemade cupcakes or going to see your dentist. We recommend the second option. As soon as you notice something wrong with your teeth, you should never wait. Pain is often associated with an infected tooth and if there is an infection present, it can spread to other areas of your body leaving you having to worry about more than just your dental health.

Tooth pain isn’t the only sign of a tooth infection. Here are other things you should know about tooth infections and what to do in an emergency situation.

While throbbing pain is often the most common sign that something is wrong, here are other symptoms to look out for that should never be left untreated:

Tooth Sensitivity

If you’re experiencing sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, this is another telltale sign that you have an infection or a cracked tooth. Cracks can happen for a variety of reasons but the main thing is, as soon as you notice it, you should seek dental treatment. A crack is an invitation for a bacterial infection to make an appearance and send your good oral hygiene for a loop, leaving you needing an emergency root canal treatment. As mentioned above, never wait. Get a cracked or chipped tooth examined right away.

Dental Abscesses

A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that can form on different parts of your gums around your teeth. You should have your abscessed tooth treated in a timely manner as they can actually be quite dangerous and put the rest of your health at risk. A tooth abscess is caused by a bacterial infection is a cavity is left untreated, or an injury has occurred and left a crack which is why they’re found next to a tooth root. Your dentist will drain it to get rid of the infection and potentially save the tooth with a root canal procedure before the infection spreads.
man has a toothache at emergency dental in hamilton

Bad Breath/Dry Mouth

Bad breath can naturally follow a dental procedure, but it can also be a sign that you have a tooth infection. A tooth abscess, which is full of pus as described above, could also be the culprit. You may also physically taste a foulness. If you notice a scent kind of like mothballs, this can be a sure sign that bacteria is in between and around your teeth. This bacteria, called tryptophan, especially thrive when your mouth is dry, you have acid reflux issues, lung diseases, a sinus infection, and more.

Bleeding Gums

Bleeding or swollen gums are a sign of too much plaque forming around your teeth, possibly even below the gum line. This is why booking regular dental checkups are important. The longer you leave the plaque, the harder it gets and eats away at your tooth enamel. The next step? Tooth decay. You cannot remove hard plaque yourself. See your dentist to do this for you and provide advice on how to better maintain your oral health.

Swollen Lymph Nodes

Cervical lymph nodes are located in the sides and at the back of your neck. When you’re sick, you may feel them become enlarged. This can also be a sign of tooth infection spreading and being exposed to too much bacteria.

Visible Pits/Dark Spots

One of the most obvious signs that you have a cavity is seeing visible pits in your tooth. By pits, we mean little holes which are often accompanied by a black or brown spot. Don’t panic. Pits can easily be repaired with a filling, veneer, or a dental crown depending on the size and severity of the tooth decay. Tooth extraction may also have to be performed, or a root canal.
woman had a teeth treatment

What Is Periodontal Disease?

You may have had your dentist throw around the words “periodontal disease” at you, leaving you wondering what is going to happen to your teeth. Periodontal disease, also referred to as gum disease, is a term used to describe inflammation or infection of your gums caused by bacteria around your teeth. In early stages, it’s called gingivitis and early stages can be reversed, especially if you listen to the advice your dentist has to offer such as brushing twice a day followed by flossing and rinsing with mouthwash once a day. This is also why they suggest visiting every 6 months so the bacteria doesn’t have a chance to build up and affect your oral health.

What Can A Tooth Infection Lead To?

When a tooth infection occurs, it should be taken care of promptly, especially if you have a weakened immune system. The infection can spread to other teeth, your face, ears, stomach, and even your blood vessels. Severe tooth decay can also obviously affect the tooth’s root and surrounding tissue, leaving you susceptible to tooth loss. Losing teeth can result in many issues such as problems eating and digesting food, bone loss, the shape of your face, and your confidence.

What To Do If You Have An Infected Tooth

If you are experiencing symptoms of a tooth infection such as severe pain, bleeding gums, a tooth abscess, swelling, or more, book an emergency dental appointment. If the infection has spread, you may have to go to the emergency room. Poor dental hygiene and sugary foods are the top risk factors for developing an infection, so by stepping up your oral hygiene game and working with your dentist to reverse early signs of gum disease, you can save your smile.
Dr Christopher Sims
Latest posts by Dr Christopher Sims (see all)

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