A tooth infection can be painful at best and life-threatening at worst. Although teeth are covered by the hardest substance in the human body, tooth enamel, they are susceptible to damage when the enamel is compromised and bacteria can reach the center of the tooth.
What exactly can cause an infection in a tooth? Here are a few dental situations that can lead to a painful infection that needs professional treatment as soon as possible.
Extensive Tooth Decay
Untreated tooth decay is one of the major causes of a tooth infection . Although tooth decay starts out small and can take some time to progress, it can eventually compromise your entire tooth. As decay eats through tooth enamel, the bacteria involved in tooth decay can reach the center of the tooth, where an infection can develop.
Since tooth decay doesn’t show many symptoms until it reaches this advanced stage, it’s important to get regular checkups with your dentist to identify tooth decay before it has a chance to cause an infection.
Injury to the Tooth
Injuries to the tooth can also cause tooth infections. These include broken, chipped, or cracked teeth . Worn-down teeth from teeth grinding may also increase your chances of a tooth infection. If a tooth has been injured, it gives bacteria a chance to get inside the tooth and cause problems, especially when left untreated over time. Even minor forms of tooth injuries, such as chips, that aren’t treated can develop into cracks over time as teeth are exposed to pressure from biting and chewing.
A Damaged Dental Restoration
Dental restorations such as bridges and fillings are designed to protect and restore your teeth. However, dental restorations deteriorate over time as they are exposed to the pressure that chewing and biting puts on teeth. If a dental restoration is damaged or even falls out, a tooth infection can follow if the restoration isn’t fixed. Getting your dental restorations evaluated by your dentist during your regular checkups can ensure they are healthy and strong to prevent problems.
Symptoms of a Tooth Infection
A tooth infection can be asymptomatic, meaning you may not experience symptoms, or it can be painful depending on the exact nature of the infection.
Most people will experience severe tooth sensitivity, pain that could radiate outward toward the ear or neck, swelling, and even swollen gums when a tooth infection is present . However, you may also have a bad taste or smell in your mouth that doesn’t go away even with brushing and flossing.
If you believe you have a tooth infection, it’s essential to get treatment as soon as possible. A tooth infection doesn’t just jeopardize the survival of your tooth, but can cause other problems in the body as well, such as a fever or an increased heart rate. Follow up with your dentist to protect your smile and save your tooth!