What Can Happen if I Ignore My Infected Tooth?

What Can Happen if I Ignore My Infected Tooth?

You’re busy, and dental appointments just don’t fit into your hectic schedule — we get it. But that tooth infection you’re tolerating won’t go away on its own. In fact, it’ll only get worse and cause more serious problems.

Fortunately, there’s a tooth-infection expert here in Mount Vernon, New York, who can restore your dental health and prevent unnecessary complications. At Smile BoutiqueDr. Wayne Hofflich explains what a tooth infection is, what causes it, and why you should never ignore it.

What’s a tooth infection?

Tooth infections go by several different names: 

Each type carries a slightly different meaning, largely related to its location, but they all mean you have an infection in your tooth that needs immediate attention. 

Signs that you may have a tooth infection include:

Because tooth infections can spread, you may also notice pain and inflammation in your jaw and neck, as well as flu-like symptoms if it has spread throughout your body.

Causes of tooth infections

Like all infections, tooth infections are the result of rampant bacterial growth. These bacteria can enter through diseased or damaged gum tissue or breaches in your tooth, such as a chip, crack, or cavity. 

As decay sets in, the bacteria reach the inner portion of your tooth called the pulp, where infection develops and often invades the tooth root below. 

Tooth infections don’t resolve on their own, so it’s important to come see Dr. Hofflich as soon as possible. Early treatment can clear away the infection and save your tooth, but delayed treatment can lead to serious consequences. 

Here are a few of the possible problems you may face if you ignore your infected tooth.

Tooth loss

Gum disease is the leading cause of tooth loss in people over age 40, but cavities are the main reason people ages 20-30 must have their teeth extracted. Either way you look at it, tooth loss is a direct consequence of untreated bacterial infections.

If you come see us early, we can save your infected tooth with a root canal procedure. In this routine procedure, Dr. Hofflich numbs your tooth and thoroughly cleans out the inner pulp, then fills it with a rubbery dental substance called gutta-percha and preps the tooth for a permanent crown. 

If you lose your tooth to a severe infection, Dr. Hofflich can replace it with a dental implant to preserve your tooth alignment and your jawbone health.

Soft tissue infections

A tooth abscess or infection is a pocket of pus. If it ruptures, you may feel temporary relief, but the contents are now free to travel and infect nearby soft tissues, such as your gums, cheeks, and tongue. 

Chances are your tooth infection has invaded your soft tissues if you experience difficulty swallowing, pain in your tongue or cheeks, facial swelling, or difficulty chewing and opening your mouth.

Jawbone infection

If your tooth infection seeps down to the tip of your tooth root, called a periapical abscess, it can enter the bones surrounding your tooth, namely your jawbone. This type of infection, called osteomyelitis, affects your bone marrow, and from there, it can spread to your other bones. 

Skin infections

Bacteria present in your tooth can also enter your skin and fat tissue, leading to a condition called cellulitis. A mild case will cause redness and swelling in your face, but a severe case may be life-threatening.

Blood infections

When the bacteria from a tooth infection spread to other parts of your body, they hitch a ride in your bloodstream. The blood vessels in your nearby sinuses are easy targets, and infection there may lead to some facial disorders.

If you ignore the problem, a blood infection can quickly spread throughout your body and turn to sepsis, a life-threatening condition that puts your immune system into overdrive. 

Widespread inflammation ensues and leads to blocked arteries, damaged organs, and a dangerous drop in blood pressure — septic shock. 

How to prevent tooth infections and their complications

You can avoid tooth infections by keeping up a healthy dental hygiene routine, including twice-yearly professional cleanings and checkups with our experienced team here at Smile Boutique. 

Also, anytime you notice a chip or crack in a tooth, don’t brush it off — it’s an ideal entry point for bacteria. 

Finally, if you do experience the symptoms of a tooth infection, come see Dr. Hofflich and our team right away to prevent the serious complications that may develop if you ignore them.

To schedule an appointment, call us today or book an appointment online. 

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