An unaddressed or untreated bacterial infection can cause the accumulation of pus inside the teeth or gums. Severely infected teeth usually result in various oral complications, including jaw-bone problems, tooth loss, sinus-related issues, brain damage, heart complications and eventually death.
Symptoms of an abscessed tooth typically include:
- Swelling to the gums and jaw.
- Bitter taste.
- Foul smell to the breath.
When a severe tooth infection goes unattended for prolonged periods, it can prove to be fatal. Therefore, it is important to know how it can happen and how people can protect themselves.
A tooth infection generally happens when the bacteria in an individual’s mouth reach the innermost tissues of his mouth, known as pulp. After a while, this infection advances and forms a pus pocket around the infected tooth, known as a dental abscess.
This infection worsens with time and might even become a reason for a person’s death. In this blog, we will uncover the life-threatening problems that oral infections can potentially lead to.
Causes Of A Tooth Infection
1. Poor Oral Hygiene
Poor dental health is a contributing factor to the development of tooth infections. It is also associated with other serious health complications, such as cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. On the other hand, our body’s natural defense system is improved with good oral health care.
Such as daily brushing and flossing, as it keeps bacteria under control. Therefore, it is really necessary to practice good dental hygiene and visit your dental professional every now and then.
2. Weakened Immune System
Our immune system plays a significant role in protecting our body from harmful viruses, bacteria, and other disease-causing pathogens. When this immune system gets weak, it becomes unable to effectively combat these harmful microorganisms, making the body more prone to such fatal infections.
A weakened immune system makes it easier for bacteria to grow and thrive in the mouth, leading to the development of infections such as abscesses, tooth decay, and periodontal disease. Furthermore, some medical conditions that weaken the immune system, such as chemotherapy or AIDS, can also increase the likelihood of various oral infections.
3. Previous Dental Trauma
When a tooth gets injured, it might become broken, cracked, or chipped, affecting the protective enamel layer, which makes the tooth more prone to bacterial invasion. Bacteria usually invade the tooth through the chips or cracks and lead to the development of infections in the tooth’s innermost layer, the pulp.
It is the soft tissue inside the tooth’s surface that contains blood vessels and connective tissues.
How To Treat Dental Infections?
Dental infections are usually treated by dental professionals, and the type of treatment procedure typically depends on the severity of oral infections. Normally, during most dental procedures, dentists drain away the pus.
However, if a tooth infection has advanced to the innermost layer of a tooth, you might need a root canal treatment. In some severe cases, when the infection cannot be stopped, dental professionals suggest tooth extraction in order to prevent the spread of infection to adjacent teeth.
Such painful procedures generally carried out under the influence of local anesthesia so that patients do not feel any kind of discomfort or pain sensations.
Prevention of Tooth Infection
Preventing tooth infections is important for maintaining good oral health. Here are some tips to help prevent tooth infections:
Maintain good oral hygiene: Brush your teeth at least twice a day and floss daily to remove plaque and food particles from between your teeth and along the gumline. Use a fluoride toothpaste to strengthen your teeth and prevent decay.
Visit your dentist regularly: Regular dental check-ups and cleanings are essential for early detection of any dental issues and to remove plaque and tartar buildup. Your dentist can also identify and treat any cavities or early signs of infection.
Practice proper nutrition: Eat a balanced diet rich in fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains. Limit your intake of sugary and acidic foods and beverages, as they can contribute to tooth decay and weaken the enamel.
Avoid tobacco and limit alcohol consumption: Smoking and tobacco use increase the risk of gum disease and tooth infections. Similarly, excessive alcohol consumption can negatively impact oral health. Avoid or limit these habits for better oral health.
Use mouthwash: Incorporate an antimicrobial mouthwash into your oral hygiene routine. This can help reduce bacteria in the mouth and prevent infections.
Protect your teeth: Wear a mouthguard if you participate in contact sports or activities that pose a risk of dental injuries. Avoid using your teeth as tools to open packages or bite hard objects.
Stay hydrated: Drinking plenty of water helps maintain optimal saliva production, which aids in washing away food particles and bacteria from your teeth and gums.
Educate yourself: Learn about proper oral hygiene techniques, dental care practices, and the signs of dental problems. By being informed, you can take proactive steps to prevent tooth infections.
Risks of Tooth Infection
Tooth infections, also known as dental abscesses, can lead to various complications and risks if left untreated. Here are some of the potential risks associated with tooth infections:
Spread of infection: A tooth infection can spread to the surrounding tissues, including the gums, jawbone, and adjacent teeth. This can result in the formation of more abscesses and the deterioration of oral health.
Facial swelling: Untreated tooth infections can cause swelling in the face and neck. Swelling may be localized around the affected tooth or may spread to other areas of the face, leading to discomfort and potential difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
Pain and discomfort: Tooth infections are typically accompanied by pain and discomfort. The pain can range from mild to severe, making it difficult to eat, speak, or engage in daily activities comfortably.
Abscess formation: A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that forms as a result of the infection. Abscesses can cause intense pain and swelling and may require drainage by a dental professional.
Sinus infections: Infections from the upper teeth, particularly the molars, can extend into the sinus cavities, leading to sinus infections. Symptoms may include facial pain, pressure, congestion, and discharge from the nose.
Osteomyelitis: In severe cases, a tooth infection can spread to the underlying jawbone, causing a condition called osteomyelitis. This can lead to bone loss, chronic inflammation, and persistent infection.
Systemic complications: In rare instances, untreated tooth infections can lead to systemic complications. The bacteria from the infection can enter the bloodstream and potentially affect other parts of the body, leading to conditions such as sepsis or infective endocarditis.
Complications of Tooth Infection
Tooth infections, also known as dental abscesses, can lead to several complications if left untreated. Here are some of the potential complications associated with tooth infections:
Spread of infection: The infection can spread from the tooth to the surrounding tissues, such as the gums, jawbone, and neighboring teeth. This can result in the formation of additional abscesses and further damage to oral structures.
Facial swelling: Untreated tooth infections can cause swelling in the face, particularly around the affected tooth. Swelling may extend to the cheeks, jawline, and neck, leading to discomfort and potential difficulty in breathing or swallowing.
Severe pain: Tooth infections are often accompanied by intense pain. The pain can radiate to the surrounding areas, making it difficult to eat, speak, or sleep comfortably.
Cellulitis: If the infection spreads to the soft tissues of the face and neck, it can lead to a condition called cellulitis. Cellulitis is characterized by redness, swelling, and warmth in the affected area. It can be painful and may require immediate medical attention.
Abscess rupture: In some cases, the abscess may rupture on its own, leading to the drainage of pus. While this can provide temporary relief, it doesn’t eliminate the underlying infection. It’s important to note that self-draining an abscess is not recommended and may not fully resolve the infection.
Sinus or nasal infections: Infections originating from the upper teeth, particularly the molars, can spread to the sinus cavities or nasal passages, resulting in sinusitis or rhinitis. This can cause symptoms such as facial pain, pressure, congestion, and nasal discharge.
Jawbone complications: A long-standing tooth infection can lead to complications in the jawbone, including bone loss, osteomyelitis (inflammation of the bone), or the development of a chronic bone infection.
Tooth infections are easier to eliminate when they are in the initial stages, but with time they lead to several health complications and require complex oral procedures. In the beginning, tooth infections can easily treated with the help of certain medicines, painkillers, and dental treatments.
As we know, when a dental infection goes unattended for a while, it potentially infects other parts of the body. Plaque build-up in the mouth can avoided by maintaining good oral hygiene routines, which include brushing and flossing on a regular basis.
It is necessary to seek prompt dental treatment from a qualified dentist if you notice you have a tooth infection. Timely treatment can significantly prevent potential problems and ensure that the infection properly eliminated.
How Long Can a Tooth Infection Go Untreated?
Dental infections should cured in the initial stages before they exert severe oral as well as overall complications. The highest limit that a dental abscess can go unattended is nearly a year or more.
But, this longevity can result in serious health conditions such as sepsis or even death. Therefore, if you feel you might have a dental abscess, do not waste any further time and consult your dental professional in the first instance.
Can a Tooth Infection Really Kill You?
An uncured dental infection is a matter of serious concern as it can advance to other tissues in a person’s body within weeks or months. Result in life-threatening complications. It is a rare possibility, but if a dental abscess stays in the mouth for extended periods. It can lead to a person’s death.