An untreated infection can spread throughout your body

Here’s an example of how what goes on inside your mouth affects the rest of your body: A simple tooth infection or abscess can lead to serious systemic complications.

A tooth infection occurs when bacteria or pus collects inside the tooth or gum.

Signs and symptoms of a tooth infection:

  • Severe, throbbing pain in the jawbone, neck, or ear
  • Swelling of the face, cheeks, or neck
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • Difficulty opening the mouth
  • Itching or burning on the skin
  • Tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
  • Fever
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Sensitivity to the pressure of chewing or biting

The kicker: Many times, these abscesses cause no pain, swelling or any other obvious symptoms.

Causes of a tooth infection

Your mouth is full of bacteria which can enter the dental pulp, or the center of the tooth, which is packed with cells, blood vessels, and tissue. The bacteria enters through a cavity, chip, or crack in the tooth, then spreads to the root. This leads to swelling and inflammation at the tip of the root and can cause a tooth abscess or infection.

Your chances of experiencing an infected tooth increase if you don’t properly, regularly clean your teeth and mouth. Consuming too much sugar, including drinking soda, can lead to more cavities, creating an easier path for bacteria to enter the tooth. Dry mouth can also increase your chances of developing tooth decay. Some medications or even just aging can come with a side effect of dry mouth. Taking care of your teeth every day can prevent decay.

What to do if you think you have a tooth infection

Tooth infections don’t go away on their own. You need to seek dental treatment right away.

In some situations, a tooth infection can spread to other parts of the body, which can cause serious and life-threatening complications, including sepsis. A dentist can treat a tooth infection and determine whether the infection is spreading so you can get the necessary medical treatment right away.

Don’t put yourself through that trauma. Properly cleaning your teeth every day is the best way to prevent a tooth infection and preserve your oral and overall health.

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