Rotten to the Core: 3 Signs of a Tooth Infection

November 04, 2013
by Michael Barber
Rotten to the Core: 3 Signs of a Tooth Infection

How do you know if you have a tooth infection or an abscess that requires treatment from a professional? Check out these three signs of a tooth infection including symptoms.

Infections From Tooth Decay

There are reasons dentists warn that brushing your teeth regularly and annual dental exams are essential. Brushing, flossing, and regular dental visits can prevent tooth decay before it becomes so bad that an abscess forms causing an infection. Abscesses are painful and can cause throbbing pain, swollen gums, and pain when chewing.

With Halloween so near and all the sugary treats your children (and you) will eat, it's especially important to brush your teeth after consuming candy. In addition, if you don't take care of your teeth or take your child to the dentist consistently, eating sugary candy can actually lead to increased tooth decay and pain from a developing abscess.

If you or your child immediately feels tooth pain when munching on Halloween candy, head to your dentist or an urgent care center immediately. Antibiotics can be prescribed to lessen the pain and start the healing process until you can get to a dentist. Doctors can also recommend the appropriate amount of OTC pain relievers to take.

Abscesses From Gum Disease

Gingivitis and periodontal disease are two conditions that can also bring on a tooth infection. With gingivitis, the gum is inflamed and with periodontal disease the gum is diseased.  So how does a tooth infection occur?

  • Gingivitis – Here, plaque builds up and the gums become inflamed. Bleeding is often present as well. Bacteria can form on the inflamed gums causing an abscess or a tooth infection. Left untreated, some people's inflamed gums may turn into periodontal disease, but not everyone progresses to the next stage.
  • Periodontal Disease – Here the gums actually have a disease, causing the inner layer of the gum and bone to pull away and form pockets says WebMD. It is in these pockets where bacteria can grow causing an abscess.

If you are experiencing mouth pain, fever, teeth sensitivity, especially when eating or teeth are sensitive to hot or cold liquids, you should contact your dentist immediately for treatment. There are options for treating both gingivitis and periodontal disease including medicated mouth washes all the way to inserting replacement bone in the jaw to stop the periodontal disease from spreading. If bone is too fragile, some dentists will refer you to oral surgeons for teeth implants.

Sure Signs of a Tooth Infection

Proper brushing, flossing, and dental visits can prevent and treat tooth decay and gum conditions, but are there sure-fire signs of a tooth infection? If you experience any or all of the following, call your dentist. If your dentist office is closed and pain is severe, find an emergency walk-in clinic so a physician can begin antibiotic treatment:

  • Sharp, throbbing, or shooting pain
  • Pain when chewing
  • Fever
  • Sensitive to hot or cold food or drink
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Foul smelling breath
  • Red and swollen gums
  • Swelling in the face, lower, or upper jaw

While antibiotics are the first course of treatment to get the tooth infection under control, once you do visit your dentist, they will probably X-ray the affected area to see if the infection is treatable or if it has progressed severely requiring a root canal or extraction.

Tooth aches and infections can be caused from decay from improper dental care and certain gum conditions. Take care of your teeth as directed by your dentist to avoid an tooth abscess.