What is a Tooth Infection?
A tooth infection is characterized by a collection of pus that develops as a result of a bacterial infection at the center of a tooth or the area between the gums and tooth. This is a common dental condition that is extremely painful. The collection of pus is made up of dead tissue, live bacteria and white blood cells.
If it accumulates in a small area (and there is no place for the pus to drain), an abscess in formed. The more pus that accumulates, the more pressure is put on tissue and as a result the tooth abscess is excruciatingly painful. If the infection spreads it is likely to cause swelling in the face and lower jaw.
The abscess may then rupture and cause the pus to drain out of the mouth. Although this rupture may ease the pain (as the pressure is lessened), the infected area should still be treated. Many of these tooth infections may not cause any pain at first and for years one may not experience any symptoms.
The symptoms and signs of a tooth infection include:
- Presence of pus (thick yellowish substance)
- Severe and persistent pain (shooting, aching or throbbing)
- Sensitivity of the tooth (to hot and cold food and drink or to pressure)
- Pain when chewing
- Foul or bitter taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- General discomfort
Please note: If symptoms such as swelling of the lower and upper jaw, fever, chills, nausea, vomiting or diarrhea develop – consult your doctor immediately.
What Causes Tooth Infection?
A tooth infection may develop as a result of a complication of tooth decay when the dental pulp is infected by bacteria. It may also occur when a tooth is chipped or broken and an infection develops in the pulp of the tooth and spreads out of the root to the bones as well as gums. Weakened or poor dental restorations as well as periodontal disease can cause a tooth abscess.
Diagnosing Tooth Infection
The diagnosis of a tooth infection is based on the symptoms, a thorough physical examination of the mouth and review of your medical history. The dentist will perform a pulp test which involves tapping the tooth gently as well as x-rays. He will also ask you if the pain increases when you bite down or close your mouth tightly.
There are two types of tooth infections and these include a periapical abscess and periodontal abscess. A periapical abscess is an infection inside the tooth, in the tooth pulp. A periodontal abscess is an infection which occurs in the bones and surrounding tissues of the tooth.
If left untreated a tooth abscess can cause serious health complications such as tooth loss, sepsis, infection to the jaw bone and facial soft tissue and mediastinitis. In severe cases, infection may also spread to other areas of the body and result in pneumonia, a brain abscess or endocarditis.
Help for Tooth Infection
Treatment of a tooth infection involves various medications and dental procedures to relieve symptoms and preserve the tooth. Over-the-counter pain relievers may be helpful to temporarily relieve pain and fever.
Antibiotics may not be able to kill all the bacteria that invades the tooth and does not actually cure the infection. A root canal procedure to save the tooth, scaling, root planning or surgery to remove the tooth may be required.
Natural remedies have been used for centuries to treat tooth infections and maintain healthy teeth and gums. Homeopathic remedies for dental infections are safe and effective for people of all ages without harsh side effects of conventional medications.
Carefully selected ingredients such as Acidum salicylicum, Silicea and Belladonna provides symptomatic relief of tooth pain, inflammation and infection. In addition, Merc sol, Ferrum phos and Hepar sulph helps to eliminate symptoms and heals gums and bones.
More Information on Tooth Infection
Tips to prevent tooth infection
There are a number of ways to prevent a tooth infection and these include:
- Brush your teeth properly twice a day, and if possible after meals
- Floss your teeth daily to eliminate plaque buildup
- Make sure that you use a toothpaste containing fluoride
- Use a toothpaste that contains fluoride to help fight gum disease and prevents plaque build up
- Use a mouthwash after brushing teeth to get rid of plaque and fight infection
- Invest in an electric toothbrush for effective and thorough plaque removal
- Replace toothbrushes every three months because new toothbrushes remove plaque more easily than used ones
- Eat a healthy, well balanced diet that consists of fruit and vegetables
- Limit your intake of sugary foods and snacks
- Stop smoking as it destroys gum tissue, causes tartar formation and bone loss
- Protect your teeth and gums from injury when playing sport by wearing a mouth guard
- Visit your dentist every six months for a dental cleaning and consultation
- Avoid long term use of certain drugs such as antidepressants, antihistamines or muscle relaxants as they dry out the mouth and can cause tooth decay and gum disease
- Chew sugar-free gum to stimulate the flow of saliva
- Home remedies such as gargling or rinsing your mouth with warm salt water can also provide relief