A tooth infection happens when bacteria cause an inflammatory response in your tooth and lead to the buildup of pus. If the infection has caused a pocket—which can be felt as a hard lump—of pus, it’s called a tooth abscess. While tooth infections and tooth abscesses are generally painful, they aren’t always.
Tooth infections can happen as the result of periodontal disease, cracked or otherwise injured teeth, and cavities, which cause holes in the teeth that allow bacteria to enter the tooth. For some people, the symptoms that typically come with a tooth infection, such as pain, swelling, sensitive teeth, and even fever, are absent.
It’s Possible to Have No Symptoms With a Tooth Infection
Once bacteria are able to enter the inner chamber of a tooth—where nerves that supply blood and feeling to the tooth are housed—they typically cause an infection . The infection may cause the inner tissue of the tooth, and the tooth itself, to die. Once this has taken place, some people won’t be able to feel the ongoing infection.
For others, their immune system does its best to fight the infection, which keeps an active tooth infection from becoming symptomatic. For those that have existing tooth infections with no symptoms, the only way to tell if there’s an infection is by visiting your dentist and getting x-rays taken.
Even Without Symptoms, the Infection Won’t Go Away Without Treatment
If you have a tooth infection but don’t have any symptoms, you might think it’s okay to forgo treatment. However, even if you aren’t having any symptoms, the tooth abscess and infection won’t go away without treatment .
The infection will eventually get worse, or, if you have another illness that requires your immune system’s attention, you may suddenly be symptomatic. Severe tooth infections rarely happen overnight—typically, these infections have been occurring for some time and are just now presenting symptoms.
How Can You Know If You Have a Tooth Infection?
If you’ve had any type of trauma to your tooth such as a crack, chip, or break, it’s always best to have the issue evaluated by your professional dentist. Although it may not feel like you need treatment at the time, these issues can worsen and eventually lead to a tooth infection in some cases.
While most patients will have symptoms with their tooth infections, some won’t. By regularly seeing your dentist and paying attention to your oral care, you can help detect any potential abnormalities—such as swelling in the face—before they have a chance to become life- threatening.
Your dentist can help you detect a potential tooth infection early to minimize your treatment and help save your tooth. Remember that not all dental issues have symptoms, making regular checkups important and potentially even life-saving!