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February 15th, 2021

Signs that a tooth infection has spread

The main concern for a tooth infection that’s been left untreated is the risk of spread to other areas of the body. When a tooth infection has spread to the face and neck, or worse, into the body’s tissues and system, it becomes a serious issue that requires emergency dental surgery.
If you suspect that you have a tooth infection, it’s important to watch out for the following signs that indicate the infection is spreading.

Emergency dental clinic

Emergency dental clinic

How do you know if a tooth infection has spread?

In most cases, tooth infections are easily treatable and, while it’s rare for a tooth infection to spread to other parts of the body, it can happen. A person who experiences any of the following with a tooth infection needs to seek the help of an emergency dental clinic immediately:

  • Swelling of the face and neck
  • Painful tongue and mouth
  • Fever
  • Severe headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Pain in the jawbone, ear, or neck
  • Throbbing tooth pain
  • Double vision or loss of vision
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Confusion/disorientation

How does a tooth become infected?

The mouth is full of bacteria from plaque, food, and saliva that can sometimes enter into the tooth or below the gumline. This results in a tooth infection, also known as a “tooth abscess”, which is a collection of pus and bacteria that forms inside the tooth or gum.

The risk for developing a tooth infection increases with:

  • Poor oral hygiene
  • A high sugar diet
  • Dry mouth
  • Smoking

Steps you can take to prevent tooth infections

To reduce the risk of serious complications and to avoid emergency dental surgery, always seek treatment for a tooth infection as soon as possible. You can also minimize your chances of getting a tooth infection by following these recommended guidelines:

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day
  • Floss your teeth at least once a day
  • Decrease your intake of sugary foods
  • Switch to a diet high in vegetables and fruits
  • Avoid tobacco products, including cigarettes, cigars, and e-cigarettes
  • Drink plenty of water daily
  • Maintain regular check-ups and cleanings with your dentist
Dr. Gurshant

Medically reviewed by Dr. Gurshant Grewal - a Registered Dentist on February 15th, 2021

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