Dental infections start in the tooth or its supporting structures. It can spread to the surrounding tissue. Dental infections are a typical cause of death before. Fortunately, due to the development of dental hygiene, modern dentistry, and antibiotics, they are rarely life-threatening today.
Dental infections most commonly occur when bacteria invade the pulp and spread to surrounding tissues. It is due to dental caries, trauma, or dental procedures. The typical type of dental infection is tooth abscess.
Symptoms of Dental Infection
- Pain in the affected area
- Throbbing pain
- Sensitivity to cold and hot foods
- Foul taste in the mouth
- Generally unwell feeling
- Difficulties opening the mouth
- Sensitivity to the pressure of chewing or biting
- Tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
- A sudden rush of foul-smelling and foul-tasting
- Salty fluid in your mouth if the abscess ruptures
- Swallowing difficulties
What is Tooth Abscess?
It is a buildup of pus that forms inside the teeth or gums. The abscess comes from a bacterial infection that accumulates in the pulp of the tooth. Bacteria exist in plaque, a by-product of food, bacteria, and saliva. It sticks to the teeth and damages them and the gums. If the plaque is not removed by regular and proper brushing and flossing, the bacteria may spread inside the soft tissue of the tooth or gums.
The Causes and Risk Factors of Dental Infection
Bacteria invading the tooth pulp causes periapical tooth abscesses. It is the innermost part of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves, and connective tissue.
The infection spreads all the way to the roots of the teeth through cavities in the teeth or cracks and chips in the enamel. Swelling and inflammation are possible at the tip of the root due to bacterial infection.
Risk Factors of Dental Infection
- Poor dental hygiene. Not taking proper care of your teeth and gums can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, and tooth abscess.
- A diet high in sugar. It can increase your risk of dental cavities and turn into tooth abscesses.
- Dry mouth. Having a dry mouth can increase your risk of tooth decay due to the side effect of certain medications or aging issues.
How to Diagnose Dental Infection?
- Tap on your teeth. An infected tooth is sensitive to touch or pressure.
- X-ray. An X-ray of the aching tooth can help identify infections. Your dentist may also use X-rays to determine whether the infection has spread.
- CT scan. If the infection has spread to other areas within the neck, a CT scan may be used to assess the infection.
Treatment for Dental Infection?
After the diagnostic method, your doctor may perform any of the following:
- Open up and drain the abscess
- Perform a root canal
- Pull the affected tooth
- Prescribe antibiotics