If you’ve had an infected tooth in the past, you know how painful it can be. But did you know that an infected tooth can affect your body and your overall health in unexpected ways? Tooth, gum, and mouth problems can cause severe pain and serious complications when left untreated, but nearly half of Americans fail to see their dentist every six months. While it’s never a smart idea to ignore any pain or infection in your body, an infected tooth can be serious and should always be treated by your dentist immediately, before it becomes a more serious problem. Read on to learn more about the dangers and also the suggested treatment of an infected tooth.
How Do You Know If You Have An Infected Tooth?
An infected tooth can be diagnosed after an examination by your dentist, but it’s important to recognize some of the most common signs of a tooth infection, so you know if you may have an infected tooth. These symptoms include:
- Tooth pain – sometimes an infected tooth can cause a throbbing sensation that can radiate into your head, jaw, ear, or neck. This pain can be severe and persistent, making it hard to chew, talk, or sleep. While tooth pain isn’t always a sign of an infected tooth, any pain in your mouth should be brought to the attention of your dentist.
- Bad breath – an infected tooth may cause a bad taste in your mouth or bad breath because of the bacteria that causes the infection.
- Sensitivity – you may experience irritation when eating or drinking hot or cold things, or it may hurt to chew or bite on one side of your mouth.
- Fever or swelling – an infected tooth can cause facial swelling or swelling of the lymph nodes in the neck. You may also experience a fever, which is your body’s attempt to fight the infection.
The pain from an infected tooth is usually caused by an abscess, which is a pocket of pus that builds up near the root of your tooth or in your gum. These sorts of infections usually happen due to an untreated cavity, tooth decay, a cracked or broken tooth, or gum disease. While the damage caused by tooth decay cannot be reversed, if you get care promptly, you can prevent any further damage.
You may be more susceptible to a tooth infection if you have a diet high in sugary foods and beverages like soda, candy, and other sweets. You also put yourself at risk if you don’t brush or floss every day, or if you have a dry mouth. Some medications cause dry mouth as a side effect, so be wary of this and be sure to consume enough water throughout the day. If you notice that your dry mouth is caused by a certain medication, talk to your doctor about trying a different medication.
Can An Infected Tooth Affect Your Heart Health?
What puts you at risk for heart disease and other cardiovascular problems? For most people, the risk factors that typically come to mind are a poor diet, a lack of exercise, excess body weight, and excessive alcohol consumption. While these are all definite risk factors, most people don’t realize that having an infected tooth or poor oral hygiene can also increase your chances of problems like heart attacks or heart disease. While it’s still not exactly known how your heart and oral health are related, there’s a definite correlation.
Research points to poor dental health as a potential risk factor for heart disease. It’s been shown that people with gum disease, tooth decay, tooth loss, and tooth infection have a higher incidence of cardiovascular problems like a heart attack or stroke. There are a few theories about why this happens. When you have an infection in your tooth or gums, the bacteria from the infection can enter your bloodstream and travel elsewhere in your body. This bacteria can cause inflammation in your blood vessels and blood clots. Other research suggests that it’s the body’s immune response to the bacteria that can potentially damage your blood vessels or heart. Evidence of oral bacteria has been found throughout the body, which means that the health of your mouth has a clear effect on your overall health.
It’s important to recognize the potential connection between dental problems and heart issues, but it’s also important to know that just because you have an infected tooth doesn’t mean you’ll develop heart problems or have a heart attack. However, this potential connection should prompt you to get proper dental care and look after your own oral health. Seeing both your dentist and physician regularly can help you catch any symptoms before they become a more serious problem.
Preventing Tooth Infections
The best thing you can do to prevent tooth infections is to see your dentist regularly, at least once every six months. When you see your dentist for a checkup, they can quickly spot any problems with your teeth and gums before they become serious issues. If your dentist spots any cavities, make sure to follow up promptly to get them filled, as untreated cavities are one of the leading causes of tooth infection. During a checkup, your hygienist will clean the difficult-to-reach parts of your mouth and will remove plaque and bacteria that have built up, which can help to prevent tooth decay, gum disease, and infection.
During the time between your dental visits, it’s essential to brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily. Brushing and flossing help to remove the bacteria that attack your teeth and gums before it can cause an infection. Use a soft-bristled manual or electric toothbrush and a toothpaste that contains fluoride to keep your oral health in check. In addition, make sure you drink plenty of water throughout the day, as water and saliva can help to wash away some of the harmful bacteria. Pay attention to any medications you may be taking and if they have dry mouth as a side effect.
What To Do About An Infected Tooth
If you suspect you have an infected tooth, the first thing you should do is schedule an appointment with your dentist as soon as you can. If you have severe pain, are having trouble breathing, or notice any signs of sepsis, an emergency room can provide you with more prompt care. Never ignore an infected tooth, because it will not go away on its own, and the symptoms and pain will likely worsen quickly.
Once your infected tooth has been treated or is healing from the infection and any subsequent procedure, you may experience a little pain or tenderness. You can gently clean the area by swishing salt water in your mouth, and over the counter pain relievers will help ease any discomfort. Follow any instructions that your dentist gives you.
Are you looking for a dentist near you who can treat tooth infections? Klement Family Dental is happy to help! Our caring, compassionate team of professionals understands that sometimes, patients may be nervous when visiting the dentist, especially for a problem like an infected tooth. We strive to make you comfortable and help you relax during your procedure. Oral health is such an important component of your overall health, and we believe you should never avoid the dentist because you’re scared. If you’re in the St. Petersburg, Florida area, contact us to learn more about the services we offer. We have two convenient locations and a team of expert staff ready to make your next dental visit a pleasant experience.