Top Causes of Tooth Infections

tooth infection

A tooth infection happens when the protective outer layers of your tooth have been compromised and bacteria enter the pulp of your tooth, where nerves and blood vessels keep the tooth alive.

Tooth infections can start mild but quickly become painful and may even require a tooth extraction. They can even be life-threatening if not treated [1]. So what are the top causes of tooth infections you should know about? The following causes can lead to an infection or abscess that can compromise your tooth.

Tooth Decay

Tooth decay is one of the top causes of tooth infections, whether it be from poor oral hygiene, not visiting your dentist, or a diet high in foods that contain added sugars or are acidic in nature [2].

Cavities from decay start with enamel damage, where plaque and acids eat away at the protective outer layers of the tooth. If left untreated, a hole can form, which allows these harmful substances to reach the sensitive inner core of the tooth, which is when an infection can happen. If the cavity reaches this stage, root canal therapy or tooth extraction may be required for treatment.

An Injury to the Tooth

Injured teeth are more susceptible to infection for the same reasons as a tooth affected by decay—external damage can leave the tooth’s inner tissue vulnerable to infection. Cracked, chipped, fractured, or loose teeth are all vulnerable to a tooth infection.

Some cracks or chips may not appear severe but can worsen over time as the teeth bear pressure from biting and chewing. Any type of tooth injury should be evaluated by an experienced dentist to determine if treatment is necessary to prevent an infection and protect your tooth.

Periodontal Disease

Periodontal disease, better known as gum disease, is one of the top causes of tooth infections. Gum disease starts as gum inflammation but if left untreated, can progress to an active infection in the connective tissue and bone that support teeth [3].

Gum disease can cause swollen gums, loose teeth, and bad breath. The tooth infections seen in gum disease can start in the tooth roots, which are hidden beneath your gum tissue, or even progress to a dental abscess, a painful pocket of infection that is a dental emergency.

Know the Signs of a Tooth Infection

A tooth infection can be asymptomatic, meaning you may not experience symptoms.  However, symptoms can include an aching or throbbing tooth, pain that feels like it is radiating out from your jaw, pain when biting or chewing, a fever, swelling in your face, severe tooth sensitivity, or a bad taste in your mouth.

Getting a tooth infection treated as soon as possible is essential, so if you’re experiencing any of these signs or symptoms, don’t hesitate to reach out to your dentist. Treating a tooth infection quickly won’t just help save your tooth—it can save your life!


Top Causes of Tooth Infections
Article Name
Top Causes of Tooth Infections
What are the top causes of tooth infections you should know about? The following causes can lead to an infection or abscess that can compromise your tooth.
Potomac Family Dentistry
Previous articleCan Breathing Through Your Mouth Impact Your Oral Health?
Next articleWhat Are the Most Popular Flossing Aids?
Dr. Ahmed Uthman
Dr. Uthman also began practicing general dentistry in 1997, and went on to gain advanced training in orthodontics in 2006. He is dedicated to his patients, and strives to provide treatments that address the underlying issues that cause most cosmetic conditions. He has a great amount of compassion for his patients, and believes that having a long lasting doctor/patient relationship helps to increase the quality and effectiveness of care. Due to his commitment to a high standard of care and additional training, Dr. Uthman is also recognized as an Invisalign Preferred Provider. Dr. Uthman spends much of his free time with his wife and daughters. He enjoys watching soccer matches, playing tennis, and has recently taken up golf as well. Dr. Uthman is trilingual, speaking Kurdish, Arabic, and English.