An infected tooth is, in most cases, caused by an untreated cavity or an injury to the tooth. This type of infection should be treated as soon as possible, before the infection spreads to other teeth, gums, tissues and bones and becomes very complicated.
Symptoms of an infected tooth
A tooth that is affected by cavity or that is injured is most likely to hurt anyway. As the infection develops, the pain becomes even more intense. If the tooth is infected, there is a possibility that gums will bleed and that there will be a puss-like discharge, along with a foul odor from the mouth. Other symptoms may include increased salivation, sensitivity in the area, especially when eating, and swelling of the cheek at the side of the mouth where the infected tooth is.
Causes of an infected tooth
Tooth decay is the most common cause of tooth infection. It happens after the infection starts inside the tooth, precisely in the pulp tissue. When a tooth becomes infected by the bacteria present in the oral cavity, the body’s immune system responds by producing white blood cells and antibodies that aim to destroy the bacteria. This way the body can handle minor infections on its own, however, this is often not enough and the bacteria destroys the pulp tissue, which requires a root canal procedure in order to save the tooth.
Another major cause of tooth infection is an abscess. Unlike tooth decay, which occurs inside the tooth, the abscess affects the bone. The problem is, this type of infection does not necessarily cause pain so a person may not even be aware of it.
Gum diseases and injuries that lead to fractured teeth are other possible causes of tooth infections.
Treatment for an infected tooth
Before proceeding with the treatment, dentists need to examine the tooth and the extent of the infection. This is usually done by an oral exam, followed by an X ray and a test for bacteria.
The extraction is the easiest way to get rid of an infected tooth. However, this is not always a good idea, as removing one tooth disturbs the order in the jaw and may interfere with eating. Teeth are extracted only if there is no other option.
Root canal is the best and most popular procedure for saving a severely damaged tooth. In this procedure, the dentist takes out dead, decayed tissue from the tooth and replaces it with filling materials.
Certain home remedies can help with tooth infections. Some people use clove oil, which soothes the pain and it also helps, to rinse the mouth with saline solution or Listerine mouthwash.