It might start with a bit of sensitivity in your teeth or gums… Then it becomes a bit of an annoying ache or throbbing sensation in your mouth. 

Yep, it’s a toothache! And it’s one of the most common signs that you probably have a bacterial infection somewhere in your teeth or gums.  

Now, don’t stress too much yet. Most dental infections, like cavities, are easily treatable with common dental procedures. 

However, if left untreated, infections could cause more severe problems in the future like pulpitis or dental abscesses, or potentially even spread to other parts of your body. That’s why it’s very important to seek out a dentist, like Dr. Li and her team at Ellerslie 66, as soon as you start experiencing any symptoms of a potential issue. Only then can they treat your oral health issues before they become a major problem.

To help you identify tooth infection symptoms and understand what to do if you’re experiencing them, we’ve put together this handy guide with all you need to know.

What is a tooth infection?

A dental infection is generally caused by bacteria in your mouth getting where it should not be.  While we all have bacteria throughout the surfaces of our mouth, problems begin to occur when the bacteria gets to the insides of your teeth, gums, or other mouth tissue. This is usually caused by poor oral hygiene, but can also happen when there are chips, cracks, or other injuries to your teeth as well.

Essentially, what happens over time is an excess of bacteria in your mouth will combine with acids, sugary and starchy foods, and saliva to create plaque and tartar buildup. Too much plaque can lead to issues such as tooth decay, and gum disease which allow the bacteria inside your teeth and gums. 

Once bacteria has gotten inside your tooth or gum tissue it can cause three main types of tooth infections. These are:

  • Cavities: Small holes in your teeth created where plaque has dissolved your tooth enamel. 
  • Pulpitis: A condition where bacteria has gotten into the pulp of your tooth and can cause nerve damage or dead teeth.
  • Abscess: An infection where bacteria in your mouth forms a pocket of pus that causes moderate to severe pain, and can turn into a serious, life-threatening condition if left untreated. Depending on where the condition is located there are different types of abscess, including: periapical abscess, or tooth abscess at the root of your tooth; periodontal abscess, in the gums or tissue next to the root or bone; and gingival abscess in your gums.

While regularly brushing your teeth and flossing can help prevent plaque buildup, and ultimately dental infections, having routine dental exams twice a year is also very important. Plaque itself cannot be removed by brushing and flossing alone so your dentist should regularly remove any that has built up and take other necessary steps to protect your teeth.

Tooth Infection Symptoms

Now that you know what a tooth infection is and how it is caused, it’s time to learn what signs to look out for.  The following are some of the most common symptoms that might suggest that you have a tooth infection, or another problem that may lead to one:

  • Consistent or throbbing tooth pain
  • Throbbing pain in the jaw, ear or neck
  • Increased pain when lying down
  • Sensitivity to pressure in the mouth
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold food & drink
  • Swelling of your cheeks, jaw, mouth, or face
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Unpleasant taste in mouth

If you’re experiencing the above symptoms, especially a combination of any, you should seek out emergency dental services from a dental provider near you. While there’s potential that it could be nothing serious, you’ll have solace in knowing that if you do have an infection that it can be caught and treated before the infection has spread to other parts of your body.

Symptoms An Infection Has Spread

While it’s best to take care of a tooth infection before it spreads, it’s also important to know when it has. It’s easy to let tooth infection carry on, especially if nervous about a dentist appointment. If you have any of these symptoms though, it’s best to seek dental care as soon as possible:

  • headache
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • sweating
  • chills
  • skin flushed
  • swelling to the point of difficulty opening your mouth
  • swelling that impedes swallowing and breathing
  • darker urine
  • diarrhea
  • vomiting

Of course, these symptoms extend from many different kinds of ailments, but if they’re following symptoms of tooth infection and you’re experiencing several of the symptoms at once then you know it’s likely that the infection has spread.

How Are Tooth Infections Treated?

Depending on the severity of the tooth infection, there is a range of treatment options to quell the problem in your teeth or gums and restore your oral health. Some common treatments for a tooth infection include:

  • Root canal
  • draining abscess
  • Administering antibiotics
  • anti-inflammatory drugs
  • removal of tooth

The path your dentist takes to restore good oral health very much depends on if the tooth infection has spread as well as the severity. Keep in mind that the longer you wait after experiencing any symptoms listed above, the more involved the treatment is likely to be. 

Preventing Tooth Infections

The best way to catch tooth infections before they spread is by regular visits to your dentist and scheduling an appointment when you notice tooth infection symptoms appearing. Teeth that see the dentist often are healthy teeth. 

If you are in need of a dental check-up or are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above, Dr. Li is available to help you regain your oral health. We have numerous payment options available and if you have dental benefits, we will submit your claims on your behalf. We also welcome cash, Visa, MasterCard, and e-Transfer payment methods to help make the dentist visit as pain-free as possible.
If you have any questions or concerns about our dental services or would like to schedule an appointment, you can call us at 587-801-1939 or contact us here.

Yuping Li
Yuping Li