6 Signs You Have a Tooth Infection
Toothaches normally result from infections that can be easily dealt with, but in some cases, those infections can spread and become life-threatening. To avoid letting your toothache reach a dangerous level, it is important to understand the signs of a tooth infection. Here are some of the most common signs:
Decoding a Tooth Abscess
At the most basic level, a tooth abscess refers to a collection of pus. This collection of pus in most cases occurs on the tip of the root, but it can also surface in any area of the tooth. Dr. Ben Kacos, a dentist in Shreveport, LA, points out the following signs that suggest you could be having a tooth abscess.
- A nagging, persistent toothache.
- Sudden, severe sensitivity to cold or hot substances.
- Sensitivity as you chew or bite.
- Facial swelling.
- A pimple-like pocket of pus on the gum line close to the area infected.
- Swollen lymph nodes just beneath your jaw.
With prompt treatment, a tooth abscess will not cause any serious problems. However, Dr. Ben Kacos may have to perform a root canal in order to save the affected tooth.
The Symptoms of a Tooth Infection Spreading Elsewhere
When the Abscess Ruptures
The tooth abscess may rupture and cause you to notice a salty fluid accompanied by a foul taste in the mouth. This rupture could also cause the pain you feel to subside immediately, but don’t be fooled into thinking that you are out of danger.
Dr. Ben Kacos, an emergency dentist in Shreveport, advises you to get professional care immediately if a dental abscess ruptures. This is because when an abscess ruptures, the infection can quickly spread to the rest of the body through the adjacent blood vessels. You are therefore at a high risk of developing sepsis, a life-threatening condition.
However, rupturing isn’t the only sign that the tooth infection has taken a turn for the worse. Other signs may precede the rupturing, so you should see Dr. Ben Kacos as soon as you notice these other signs when you have a tooth infection.
Another sign that the tooth infection is spreading to other parts of the body is when you begin to feel unwell. This could take the form of inexplicable fatigue, episodes of dizziness and a feeling that you are about to be ill.
The localized toothache could also worsen and become a nagging headache. You could also feel pain in your ear or jawbone. All this shows that the tooth infection has worsened and it is beginning to affect other parts of your body.
An elevated body temperature (fever) is a natural way through which the body deals with infections. That high temperature makes it hard for many types of bacteria to survive, so when you notice that you have a fever, seek immediate professional help because the tooth infection may have spread to other body systems and parts.
That high body temperature can damage some of your body systems since fevers are typically characterized by a body temperature hovering above 101°F which is higher than the optimum temperature at which the body functions properly. Persistent fevers may suggest that you are developing sepsis as a result of the tooth infection.
Oftentimes, people with tooth infections that are spreading also shiver and experience chills from time to time. This may be accompanied by a drop in temperature. Whether your temperature increases or drops, see an emergency dentist in Shreveport LA immediately so that the infection can be contained before it causes severe complications.
It is normal for a tooth abscess to cause minimal facial swelling, especially around the affected tooth. However, you should seek emergency medical or dental attention if the swelling persists or worsens.
This emergency dental care is necessary because the swelling could affect your airway and make it harder for you to breathe or swallow, which can then be a life-threatening situation.
An Elevated Breathing and Heart Rate
Have you started breathing at a faster rate than you normally do? Is your heart beating faster than it normally does? Are you panting or struggling to get enough air into your lungs?
All these are pointers that you are developing sepsis as a result of the tooth abscess. If you cannot see your dentist immediately, contact your doctor as a matter of urgency. The sooner you can get proper treatment the better because when sepsis sets in, it is a race against the clock to contain it and save your life.
Stomach Pain and Dehydration
As the sepsis worsens, you may start experiencing stomach pain, diarrhea, and vomiting. Another symptom that you could notice is that you will pee less often and the color of your urine will be darker than it usually is. This indicates that your body is becoming dehydrated as the sepsis advances to its second stage.
When this dehydration is coupled with vomiting and diarrhea, your health condition can worsen rapidly so it is important to see Dr. Ben Kacos or your doctor immediately.
How to Prevent a Dental Abscess
As you have seen, an abscess can spread and cause serious problems to your overall health, so it is beneficial for you to learn what you can do to prevent an abscess from developing. This is much better than having to deal with an abscess once it develops. Here are the tips Dr. Ben Kacos suggests to help you avoid tooth infections and abscesses.
- Brush your teeth twice each day.
- Floss once a day.
- Use an antibacterial mouthwash daily to kill oral bacteria.
- Replace your toothbrush every three or four months.
- Have a dental exam and cleaning done every six months, or as frequently as Dr. Ben Kacos recommends based on your dental health condition.
- Reduce your intake of sugary foods and drinks.
All the preventive tips above are routine dental care habits that you should already be implementing on a daily basis. If you aren’t, then the seriousness of tooth infections and abscesses discussed above may have proved the value in simple preventive habits, like brushing and flossing.
If you have any questions about tooth abscesses or any other aspect of your dental health, contact Dr. Ben Kacos, a dentist in Shreveport, LA. The entire team will be glad to address your concerns and give you the dental care that you need to stay in good health.