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Deep Tooth Decay Can Lead to Infected Teeth

Posted on 11/22/2021 by Kian Djawdan DMD
Deep Tooth Decay Can Lead to Infected TeethOver 90 percent of American adults have had a cavity at one point or another. Cavities are both preventable and treatable, but if left untreated, bacteria can enter the cavity and cause an infection and other serious complications. Read on to learn more.

What Causes a Tooth Infection?

A tooth infection starts with a cavity. Cavities, also known as dental caries or simply tooth decay, are holes in the surface of your teeth. They are caused by poor oral hygiene, neglecting your routine dental checkups, excess sugar and starch consumption, enamel erosion, and other circumstances that lead to an abundance of oral bacteria, such as having a dry mouth. As cavities progress, they get larger, wear away your enamel, and extend deeper into your tooth to the next layer, the dentin. Next, the decay spreads to the soft pulp inside your tooth, which contains your sensitive nerve endings and blood vessels. Your tooth is thoroughly infected at this point, and you might develop an abscess, or a pocket of pus, at the root of your tooth or on your gum.

Teeth can also become infected as a result of a dental injury. For example, bacteria can enter a cracked tooth and cause an infection that spreads down to the root. An injury that causes abrasions to your gum is also vulnerable to infection.

Symptoms of an Infected Tooth

In the earlier stages of tooth decay, you might experience increased sensitivity to hot, cold, and sweet foods and drinks. When decay extends into the pulp, it can cause throbbing tooth and jaw pain. If an abscess forms, you might also experience an unpleasant taste in your mouth and swelling in the face and lymph nodes in addition to pain. You should call us if you have sudden tooth pain, as an oral abscess and deep decay will not go away on their own. If you have a fever, chills, or difficulty breathing or swallowing, these could be signs that the infection is spreading to other parts of your body, and you need to seek treatment right away.

How Are Infected Teeth Treated?

Minor cavities are treated with dental fillings, but deeply decayed, infected teeth require more extensive treatment. First, if an abscess has formed, we need to drain it. Then we need to thoroughly clean and disinfect your tooth by performing a root canal. Once we have removed all the infected pulp from inside your tooth, we will fill and seal the tooth so it cannot get infected again, and then we usually place a crown to strengthen and protect the underlying tooth. Contact our office to inquire about treatment for deep decay and infected teeth.
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