5 Things To Know If You Suspect a Tooth Infection or Abscess


Get relief from tooth pain from your dentist. 

Tooth infections or abscesses can be serious. If you suspect that you could have a tooth infection or abscess, or if you’re having any dental pain, call us at River Walk Dental right away. We offer emergency care and same-day appointments, so if you’re in pain, you can get care immediately. You don’t have to suffer with dental pain. Give us a call today!

Signs and Symptoms of Dental Infections and Abscesses

A tooth infection can be very dangerous and you should get treatment right away if you think you could have a dental infection.

When you have a dental infection, what you really have is an abscess, or a small pocket that is either on your tooth, in the pulp of your tooth, or in the gum surrounding the tooth. That small pocket gets filled with bacteria and pus. The bacteria can eat away at your tooth or your gum causing damage to the structure of your tooth. And, if the bacteria enters your bloodstream, it could cause infections in other parts of your body. 

If the infection gets down to the pulp of your tooth, it’s called pulpitis. Pulpitis is very painful because the pulp of the tooth is where the nerve of the tooth is. The tissue inside the pulp chamber swells because of the infection and puts pressure on the nerve of the tooth, which can cause a lot of pain. Treating the infection will reduce the swelling and eliminate the pain. 

Tooth pain can be caused by many things, and pain doesn’t necessarily mean that you have an infection or an abscess. 

The common symptoms of a dental abscess are:

  • Throbbing in the tooth.
  • Sharp pain in the tooth or gum.
  • Pain when you chew.
  • Pain that radiates to your jaw or other parts of your mouth.
  • Tooth sensitivity. 
  • A bitter or foul taste in the mouth.
  • Loosening of the tooth.
  • Red, swollen gums.
  • Pus leaking from the gum.
  • Open sore on the gum.
  • Swollen face near the jaw.
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck.

You may have one, a few, or all of these symptoms if you have an abscess. If you develop any of these symptoms, you should give us a call and make an appointment to see if you could have an abscess. 

Causes of Dental Infections

There are lots of reasons why people get dental infections and abscesses, but the ultimate cause of all tooth abscesses is tooth decay. Tooth decay is caused by the bacteria in the mouth that starts to eat away at the tooth, roots, and bone structures in your jaw. If left untreated, tooth decay causes cavities and it can cause dental infections. The more tooth decay you have, the greater the chances are that you will develop an abscess or infection. 

People who have a greater risk of developing tooth infections are people who:

  • Smoke.
  • Have dry mouth because of medications or illnesses.
  • Don’t brush and floss every day.
  • Have a weak immune system.
  • Snore or have sleep apnea that causes them to breathe through their mouths at night.
  • Don’t drink enough water.

Staying hydrated and practicing good oral hygiene can go a long way towards preventing dental abscesses and infections. 

When to Call a Dentist

No amount of dental pain is normal. If you’re having tooth, gum, or jaw pain, that’s your body’s way of telling you that something is wrong. Treating the problem as quickly as possible lowers the risk of a dental infection turning into something more serious. If a dental infection progresses into the pulp of the tooth, the tooth could die. And if that happens, you will need a root canal and a crown, or possibly even an implant in the event that you lose the tooth, to preserve your teeth and your smile. 

If you have any pain in your teeth, jaw, or gums, you should call a dentist right away. Don’t wait until the infection progresses. We offer same-day appointments, so you can get a dental assessment and treatment the same day that you call. 

How We Can Help

When you have a dental exam to see if you have an infection, the first thing that will happen is that one of our team members will take an X-ray of the area to see what’s going on with your tooth. X-rays will give the dentist a more complete picture of whether there is any infection, how deep the infection goes,  and whether or not your tooth has been weakened. 

After that, the dentist will assess the tooth and decide what treatment is best for your situation. If necessary, you’ll be given antibiotics to kill the infection, and your doctor will recommend a treatment plan that will protect your teeth for the future and fix any damage caused by the infection. 

If there is pulpitis or significant damage to the tooth, you may need a root canal or a tooth extraction, but the dentist will need to assess your unique situation to determine that. Calling as soon as you notice any symptoms of an infection is the best way to get treatment before too much damage is done. 

Other Tooth Pain That Can Mimic an Infection

If you’re having dental pain, it may not be an infection. Tooth pain can also be caused by sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, a cavity that needs to be filled, bruxism or grinding your teeth, a loose or damaged filling, or even sinusitis. The dentist will need to conduct an exam to determine what the source of your tooth pain is and how to treat it. 

Regardless of the source, it’s never a good idea to suffer in silence. Not only are you living with unnecessary pain, but there could be progressive damage that will cause more problems down the track. River Walk Dental is experienced in restoring the health of your teeth, and we can provide you with a solution for your pain and guidance on how to ensure you don’t experience it again. Contact us today for an appointment, and get smiling with confidence. 

River Walk Dental

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