Do I have a tooth infection?

Do I Have a Tooth Infection? Symptoms and Treatment Options

Posted on 19 Jan
General Dentistry

By: General Dentist Sean McLuen

A tooth infection, also known as an abscessed tooth, can be a painful and potentially serious dental issue that requires prompt attention. But how do you know if you have a tooth infection? This blog post will explore the common symptoms of a tooth infection and the various treatment options available to address this dental concern.

Symptoms of a Tooth Infection:

  • Severe Toothache: One of the most common and noticeable symptoms of a tooth infection is a painful, throbbing toothache. The pain may be constant or intermittent and can be particularly intense when you bite down on the affected tooth.
  • Swelling and Redness: A tooth infection can lead to localized swelling in the affected area of your mouth. You might also notice redness and tenderness in your gums around the infected tooth.
  • Pus Formation: The presence of pus near the affected tooth is a clear sign of infection. Pus can have a foul taste and odor and may drain from a small bump on your gum, known as a dental abscess.
  • Fever and General Discomfort: A tooth infection can sometimes lead to a fever, general discomfort, and malaise. This occurs when the infection spreads beyond the tooth.
  • Bad Breath or a Foul Taste: An unpleasant taste in your mouth or persistent bad breath can also indicate a tooth infection. The foul odor is usually a result of the condition.

The Difference Between a Tooth Infection and a Cavity:

A tooth infection and a cavity are both dental issues, but they differ in severity and the extent of damage they cause. A cavity, also known as tooth decay, occurs when the enamel—the outer layer of the tooth—is eroded by bacteria and acids, resulting in a small hole. It is a localized issue that can often be addressed with a dental filling, preventing further decay.

On the other hand, a tooth infection occurs when bacteria penetrate deeper into the tooth, reaching the pulp, which contains nerves and blood vessels. This can lead to inflammation, pain, and potential complications. While a cavity is a milder form of tooth decay, a tooth infection is a more serious condition that may require a root canal or, in severe cases, extraction.

Treatment Options for Tooth Infections:

  • Antibiotics: In mild cases of tooth infection, your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to eliminate the infection. However, antibiotics alone may not completely resolve the issue; further dental treatment is usually required.
  • Root Canal Therapy: A root canal procedure may be necessary if the infection has reached the tooth's pulp. The infected pulp is removed during a root canal, and the tooth is cleaned, disinfected, and sealed to prevent further infection.
  • Drainage of Abscess: If a dental abscess has formed, your dentist may need to drain it to relieve pain and eliminate infection. This is typically a quick and straightforward procedure.
  • Tooth Extraction: In severe cases where the tooth is extensively damaged and cannot be saved, your dentist may recommend extracting the infected tooth. After extraction, you may discuss options for tooth replacement, such as dental implants or bridges.
  • Pain Management: While undergoing treatment, your dentist may recommend over-the-counter pain relievers or prescribe stronger medications to manage pain and discomfort.

Preventing Tooth Infections:

Prevention is always better than treatment. To reduce your risk of tooth infections, maintain good oral hygiene practices, including regular brushing, flossing, and dental check-ups. Avoid sugary foods and beverages and consider dental sealants and fluoride treatments to strengthen your teeth.

Recognizing the symptoms of a tooth infection early is crucial for timely treatment and preventing complications. If you suspect a tooth infection based on the symptoms mentioned above, don't hesitate to contact your dentist for a proper evaluation and treatment plan. Remember that dental infections should not be ignored, as they can lead to more serious health issues if left untreated.


Meet Dr. Sean McLuen

Dr. McLuen is a general dentist at Dental Associates Greenville.

Get to know him by visiting his profile page: General Dentist Sean McLuen

Meet General Dentist Sean McLuen

Schedule Today!

Book an Appointment at Dental Associates.