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Tooth Infection

An infected tooth can be extremely painful, making it hard to concentrate on anything other than the discomfort. A tooth infection is caused when bacteria in your mouth penetrate the hard outer layer of tooth enamel that normally protects a tooth. Once they get inside the tooth, these bacteria soon destroy the dentin, a softer structure underneath your tooth enamel. Dentin surrounds the dental pulp.

The dental pulp lies right at the center of a tooth and contains soft tissues: connective tissues, the tooth nerve, and blood vessels. When the dental pulp becomes infected, it will soon develop into a root canal infection, where the infection spreads from the tooth into the root canals in the tooth roots. The infection can then continue to spread from the tooth roots to the tissues surrounding it.

What Can Cause a Tooth Infection?

Common causes of a tooth infection include:

What Are the Signs I Have a Tooth Infection?

The most common sign of a tooth infection is pain that may be continual and throbbing or which only occurs when you bite down on the tooth. If you ignore this symptom, the pain will continue to worsen, and you will eventually notice swelling in the gum around the tooth and that the pain has begun to spread to your jawbone.

Other signs that you have a tooth infection include noticing:

A tooth infection requires professional dental care to eliminate the bacteria causing this problem. Without treatment, the bacteria will eventually kill the dental pulp, but the infection will continue to spread, causing a dental abscess.

There are two types of dental abscesses which are:

A dental abscess is a problem that requires urgent dental care. In the worst case, it can even cause the lymph glands in your neck to swell, facial swelling, and a fever. These symptoms are extremely serious and indicate the infection has spread beyond the tooth to other parts of your body, and it can become life-threatening without emergency dental care.

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What to Do If You Think You Have a Tooth Infection?

If you are concerned that you have a tooth infection, it’s important to come and see us quickly. The sooner we can treat your tooth, the more likely we can save it from extraction. It’s especially important if you have a weakened immune system, are undergoing treatment for cancer, or take certain medications that make it harder for you to fight infection. Also, when you come to see us, we can provide immediate dental care to relieve the pain.

Diagnosing a Tooth Infection

When you see Dr. Adam Shoukry, he can gently examine the tooth and take a digital dental x-ray that will show the extent of the infection, whether it has become an abscess, and if the infection has spread.

Treating An Infected Tooth

The treatment recommended will depend on the extent of the infection. You may need antibiotics if you have a severe infection. A root canal can eliminate infection by getting rid of the dental pulp and all other infected and inflamed tissues. Root canal therapy will almost certainly be the preferred treatment to save the infected tooth. Otherwise, we may need to extract a severely infected tooth.

What If I Have an Infected Wisdom Tooth?

If you have an infected wisdom tooth, it will almost certainly need to be removed. A wisdom tooth infection normally occurs because the tooth has become decayed or is impacted and cannot be saved.

Can I Prevent Tooth Infections?

Good, ongoing dental care can prevent tooth infections, and that is why we thoroughly recommend biannual visits combined with regular hygiene appointments. When we regularly check your teeth, we can easily detect any signs of damage to a tooth that could allow infection, causing bacteria to enter it. During these early stages, you may be unaware anything is wrong with your tooth, but restorative dentistry now can save you from suffering a painful toothache or, even worse, a tooth extraction.

Your daily oral care routine is equally important, so ensure you brush your teeth twice daily for two minutes using good-quality fluoride toothpaste. If you are unsure which toothpaste to choose, ask us for advice or look for toothpaste with the American Dental Association seal of approval. You need to floss daily to clean between your teeth and around your gumline. Again, if you are unsure how to floss, please ask us for practical advice and help.

If you notice a tooth has become cracked or chipped between dental visits, please contact us immediately for proper restorative care.