For the vast majority of people, a toothache is just that—a minor pain that might take a visit to the dentist to fix. However, in some instances, toothaches and mouth infection symptoms can spread to the other parts of the body and can even be fatal if left untreated for too long! While it’s very rare for tooth infections to spread, if they do, the effects can be severe. For your own health, take some time to learn what causes tooth infections, how to treat them, and the symptoms of tooth infection spreading to the body.
What Is a Tooth Infection?
Tooth infections can happen when decay, trauma, or other processes wear away at your tooth’s enamel, allowing harmful bacteria to enter the porous “dentin” inside of your tooth, where it can affect structures like the root and nerve underneath your gums. As the inside of your begins to decay, you might notice symptoms like:
- Pain that is either dull and consistent, or sharp and only happens at certain times.
- Increased sensitivity to heat, cold, or other stimuli.
- Swelling and tenderness in the face or gums.
- Bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth.
If left untreated, these mouth infection symptoms can worsen to the point of causing an abscess. An abscess is a pocket of infected fluid called pus that forms beneath the gum line and may look like a pimple or white spot near the infected tooth. Tooth abscesses are a sign of advanced infection, and can be accompanied by severe pain and swelling. At a certain point, this abscess can burst, which may relieve some pain symptoms, but in reality, is a dangerous sign that the infection is beginning to spread.
What Are the Symptoms of a Tooth Infection Spreading to the Body?
If at this point a patient still has not found treatment, they may begin to experience symptoms of tooth infection spreading to the bloodstream, a condition called “sepsis,” which can eventually affect other major organ systems leading to dangerous and potentially fatal consequences. Some of the symptoms of a tooth infection spreading to the body include:
- Swelling of the face, neck, and cheeks, which may also be painful or tender to the touch.
- Itching or burning sensation of the skin on other parts of the body.
- Nausea, vomiting, fever, and severe headaches.
- Problems with the vision.
- Difficulty breathing and a rapid heartbeat.
- Confusion or dizziness.
Bacteria from the original tooth infection may even begin to decay the surrounding bones and tissues in the face and jaw. Swelling from the irritation can eventually impact your airway and lead to difficulties breathing, and there are even instances of a tooth infection spreading to the brain symptoms.
When to Seek Treatment
You should make an appointment with a dentist at the first sign of a toothache. Infections are easiest to treat when symptoms are mild, and your dentist may simply need to perform a quick filling to remove infected tooth material or prescribe a course of antibiotics to get the infection under control.
For more advanced infections, patients may need to see endodontic specialists for root canal treatment. Root canals have a scary reputation, that comes from outdated dental techniques and a general misunderstanding of what happens during the procedure, but modern root canals are safe, fast, and usually result in minimal discomfort.
However, if you begin to experience the signs of sepsis or advanced symptoms that don’t just affect your mouth, it’s crucial that you see a doctor immediately. Severe symptoms like gasping, seizures, intense vomiting, or delirium require emergency treatment at a hospital.
What Is a Root Canal?
Root canals are an efficient way of treating moderate tooth infections by removing the affected material within the root of the tooth. Usually, an endodontist will numb the affected tooth and access the root to surgically remove the ends of the tooth and blood supply. They will then fill the space with a surgical compound to seal it and prevent further infection. Root canal treatment has the added advantage of treating infection while allowing patients to keep their own natural teeth—although the endodontist may place a crown or cap over the tooth to keep the color consistent with other, untreated teeth.
How to Prevent Tooth Infections
While treatment of tooth infections is possible, preventing them altogether is better for your oral, and general, health. Steps you can take to prevent tooth infection include:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with a soft brush and toothpaste with fluoride.
- Flossing or otherwise cleaning between the teeth once per day.
- Limiting foods with large amounts of sugar.
- Visiting the dentist for biannual cleanings and examinations.
Most toothaches are common annoyances that can be easily cured, and modern dental techniques and equipment are more than capable of treating even advanced mouth infection symptoms. However, avoiding treatment or ignoring symptoms can have potentially deadly consequences. If you are experiencing symptoms of a tooth infection, don’t gamble with your health!
Come visit the dental professionals at Advanced Endodontics of Nevada for a consultation and examination. Our experienced staff will welcome you to our comfortable clinic and find the right treatment to help protect what matters most—your health. Call or visit our website to get started!