Gentle Dental

Tooth Infection

A tooth infection is a common dental problem that can develop when bacteria from the mouth enter the tooth.


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These bacteria can penetrate a tooth if it is severely decayed or is cracked or chipped. Tooth infections can also develop because of gum disease.

How Does a Tooth Become Infected?

Usually, a tooth is protected with a tough outer layer of tooth enamel. Any damage affecting the outer layer of tooth enamel allows harmful bacteria to get inside a tooth and to begin eroding the softer dentin just underneath. Without prompt dental care to restore the tooth, the infection will eventually reach the innermost part of the tooth called the pulp.  The pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissues, and nerves, which is why it is so painful when you have an infected tooth. Your root canals extend from the pulp into the tooth roots, and tooth pain can indicate a root canal infection.

What Are the Risk Factors of Tooth Infection?

The following can increase your risk of developing a tooth infection:

  • Poor oral hygiene which allows harmful bacteria to build up in your mouth
  • Eating a diet high in sugar can increase the risk of cavities and other dental diseases
  • Dry mouth is a condition where you don’t have enough saliva and can increase the risk of tooth decay

A wisdom tooth infection can develop if your wisdom teeth are impacted and cannot erupt properly or are partially erupted and are difficult to clean thoroughly.

What Are the Symptoms of a Tooth Infection?

Symptoms of an infected tooth include:

  • Pain
  • Gum swelling and redness
  • Pain while chewing
  • Bad breath
  • Unpleasant taste
  • Jaw pain
  • Fever
  • Facial swelling or swollen lymph nodes

A tooth infection extending into the pulp and root canals can cause an abscess, so you may notice a ‘pimple’ on your gum where the pus from the infection is building up. If you press the gum, the pus may ooze out.

An infected tooth cannot get better on its own and needs dental treatment to try and save the tooth and relieve the discomfort. If the infection kills the nerves in the pulp, any pain may decrease, but the infection will remain. If an abscess cannot drain, the infection can spread to other areas of your jaw or your head and neck. It could become life-threatening.

What Is the Treatment for a Tooth Infection?

When you visit Gentle Dental, we can gently examine the tooth and the surrounding area. We might tap the tooth lightly as an abscessed tooth is usually more sensitive to pressure. An x-ray can identify an abscess and will show if the infection has spread beyond the tooth.

Treatment depends on the extent of the infection. A root canal infection is frequently treatable with root canal therapy, where we remove the diseased pulp tissue, disinfecting the tooth before we permanently restore it with a dental crown. The crown prevents reinfection and can preserve the tooth for many years to come.

A tooth that is severely infected might be beyond saving and will need removing. Its removal allows the abscess to drain. We might prescribe antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading. You might also need antibiotics if you have a compromised immune system.

If you recognize the symptoms of a tooth infection, please schedule an appointment with us quickly. We are much more likely to save a tooth when we can treat a tooth infection promptly.

Do you have any questions about tooth infection treatment in Queens, NY? Would you like to schedule an appointment with the best dentists of Gentle Dental, please contact our Bayside office for a consultation at (718) 461-0100.

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