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At one time or another, it’s typical for adults to suffer from a painful tooth infection. A tooth infection is the result of an untreated abscess, which is caused by a bacterial infection. In typical cases, the treatment is straightforward: a dentist drains the abscess, which eliminates the infection. Sometimes, a root canal or tooth removal is necessary to get rid of the infection.

While the normal thing to do when experiencing tooth pain is to pay a visit to the dentist, some people ignore the pain, thinking it will go away on its own. Unfortunately, tooth infections do not go away on their own, and ignoring an abscess can lead to dire consequences. Recognizing the symptoms of an infection and knowing what to do if you suspect you have one is critical.  

Symptoms of Tooth Infection

How do you know if you have a serious tooth infection? Here are some of the most common tooth infection symptoms: 

  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Throbbing tooth pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Sour taste in the mouth
  • Pain when you lie down 
  • Throbbing pain in other areas besides your mouth, like the ear and jaw
  • Swollen neck lymph nodes

Symptoms of Tooth Infection Spreading to the Body

When left untreated, an infection in your tooth can make its way to other areas of the body–and to be clear, just because an abscess has ruptured doesn’t mean it’s gone. A rupture is actually the first sign that the infection is spreading, and the abscess still needs to be adequately drained. 

If left untreated, the infection can enter your jaw and hitch a ride to other areas of your body. The infection can even spread to your bloodstream and cause sepsis. Sepsis is a life-threatening response to an infection in your body that causes the chemicals that fight infection to be thrown out of whack. It also produces changes that can damage several organs.  

Here are some symptoms of the tooth infection spreading to the body:

  • Facial swelling
  • Fever
  • Feeling unwell 
  • Dehydration
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased breathing rate
  • Headache
  • Fatigue 
  • Dizziness
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

What Are the Symptoms of a Tooth Infection Spreading to the Brain?

Though it’s incredibly rare, in some instances, a tooth infection can spread to the brain and become a brain abscess, or a pus-filled swelling in the brain. The tooth infection spread to brain symptoms are more or less similar to the symptoms you see when the infection has spread to the body, but brain abscesses also have some other telltale clues: 

  • Confusion or irritability 
  • Issues with nerve function, like muscle weakness or even paralysis
  • Seizures
  • A stiff neck
  • Blurry or gray vision

Brain abscesses are life-threatening, so if you suspect you have one, seek medical attention immediately. This infection can disturb the supply of blood and oxygen to the brain, and it may also rupture, which creates a dire situation. Brain abscesses require treatment in a hospital that’s usually a combination of antibiotics and, depending on the size, surgery. 

What to Do If You Suspect You Have An Infection

As you can see, an untreated tooth abscess is no laughing matter. If you suspect you might have deadly tooth infection symptoms, call your dentist to set up a same-day emergency appointment. If you can’t reach your dentist or if you can’t get an appointment, you should head straight to the nearest emergency room for treatment. 

How Can a Tooth Get Infected?

Chips, cracks, or cavities are all ways that a healthy tooth can become infected. Additionally, certain factors may put you at greater risk for suffering from a tooth infection:

  • Consuming high amounts of sugar. High sugar intake can cause cavities, one of the main ways tooth abscesses form.
  • Dry mouth. Certain medications and aging cause dry mouth, which puts you at risk for infections because it increases the likelihood of tooth decay.  
  • Inadequate dental care. Not taking care of your teeth can have lots of negative consequences.

How to Prevent Tooth Infections

While the dangers of untreated abscesses are certainly real, preventing a tooth infection is preferable to treating an existing one. The good news is that, while requiring daily care and dedication, preventing tooth infections is easy. All you need to do is practice good oral hygiene. Some healthy habits to incorporate into your routine are:

  • Brushing twice a day
  • Flossing once a day 
  • Replacing your toothbrush every three to four months
  • Making regular visits to the dentist (twice per year)
  • Using mouthwash
  • Minimizing your sugar intake 

There are some other things to keep in mind when caring for your teeth:

  • Don’t press down too hard on your teeth when brushing, as this can damage your teeth. Talk to your dental hygienist and ask for tips if this is a concern for you. 
  • Only use your teeth for what they’re intended for: eating and drinking. Doing things like opening bottles or cutting string is an easily avoidable way to put cracks in your teeth that can then lead to infection.
  • If you’ve had any dental work done, such as tooth extraction or a root canal, pay close attention to the area for signs of infection in the days following the procedure.  

If you aren’t already practicing these healthy habits, there’s no time like the present to get started. Indeed, reading about the dangerous consequences of tooth abscesses might prove motivating. We should also educate children from a young age about the best ways to care for their teeth so they can avoid suffering from dental problems like this one. 

Emergency Dentist Services in North Hollywood

Are you experiencing any of the symptoms mentioned above? Time is of the essence when it comes to treating dental abscesses, so reach out to our emergency dentists in North Hollywood. Our dental services are available 24/7, so you can receive the treatment you need right way. Contact us now.