It’s common knowledge that dental issues are cosmetic. But, do you know that ignoring dental disease can result in severe illness and even death? Yes, deaths due to tooth infections often make it in the headlines.
Dental infections are the most preventable and easily treatable medical conditions. However, adults and children in low-income groups find it difficult to access dental care.
Plus, people often fail to acknowledge the seriousness of oral health and illness. They avoid tooth extraction and let the decayed piece in place for years.
Infection’s journey from tooth to the brain
Besides severe pain, a decayed wisdom tooth can also result in facial swelling. If the disease from the infected upper-jaw tooth reaches the brain, the patient may experience a headache.
At this stage, the patient has no other options but to opt for antibiotics and tooth extraction. Failing to do so can even result in death; yes, you read it right, death!
Lack of preventative care combined with inaction despite infection
A combination of tartar, plaque, and harmful bacteria can trigger tooth decay. The condition shows several signs and symptoms. It develops in the grooves and crevices of your molars.
Biannual dental checkups and cleanings at a dental clinic eliminate the chances of developing advanced tooth infections.
Plaque and tartar formation creates a perfect environment for harmful bacteria. They feed on naturally found saliva sugar and multiply. These bad bacteria also release acid that demineralizes and erodes tooth enamel resulting in cavities.
If these holes are not filled on time, the bacterial infection reaches the pulp, tooth nerves, and blood vessels. The situation can escalate quickly if the untreated infection spreads in the brain or other body parts.
A pocket of pus and bacteria
A dental abscess often accompanies a tooth infection. The condition involves the formation of bacteria pockets and pus on gums, inside the teeth, or on the jawbone. It’s a sign that the harmful bacteria have reached the gumline.
The condition is easily diagnosable and treatable during the initial stages. But a delay in starting the treatment can result in serious medical consequences.
Patients are vulnerable to osteomyelitis, cavernous sinus thrombosis, cellulitis, parapharyngeal abscess, and even sepsis.
Put simply, severe infections can affect the person’s health by spreading beyond the face and neck.
When tooth infection enters the bloodstream, it triggers a reaction from the immune system. Sepsis occurs when the immune system overreacts. If left untreated, the medical condition can lead to septic shock, and ultimately, multiple-organ failure.
Stage-wise treatment options
- Filling up cavities
Painless and quick treatment is possible if cavities get highlighted and filled without delay.
In case of decay, dentists remove the same with the help of a small drill and fill the treated area to restore the chewing power.
- Root canal
If the decay reaches the inner areas of the tooth, it needs a restorative treatment like a root canal.
As a part of the process, the dentist drills the infected areas of the tooth to remove accumulated bacteria and pus. Rubber-like material gutta-percha is used for filling the space post removal of infected tissues. A crown is placed on the tooth to cover it for restoring chewing power.
If the infection has reached the tooth end, your dentist can recommend an additional process called an apicoectomy. It involves a minor surgery on the gums to remove the infected root and surrounding tissues.
In some cases, dental decay completely damages the tooth and reaches the root. There is no other alternative option but to extract the dead tooth.
- Antibiotics for controlling the infection
Dentists assess the severity of the infection and might prescribe strong antibiotics to stop it from spreading.
During treatment, the professional can ask you to switch to a different medication.
Parapharyngeal abscess cases require pus draining from the infection site. The process may require hospitalization.
Patients who need surgical intervention to remove infected jawbone portions (apicectomy) also need a hospital stay. Specialists use intravenous drip to administer antibiotics.
Sepsis can cause sudden blood pressure drop, multiple organ failure, and even death. Thus, sepsis patients need hospitalization and ICU treatment with surgery, dialysis, and intravenous antibiotics, depending on the severity of the condition.
What’s the best option to avoid trouble? Simply practicing oral hygiene habits can help you stay ahead of the decay.
Which factors influence the type of treatment for an infected tooth?
- The location of the abscess
- The extent of the infection
- Areas where the disease has spread
- The infection’s impact on the immune system
Signs and symptoms to worry about
Some signs indicate if the dental infection has reached other areas of the body. Patients with the following symptoms require immediate medical attention:
- Swelling of cheeks or overall face and neck
- Burning sensation on facial skin
- Painful tongue or mouth
- Slight loss of vision or double vision
- Severe one-sided headache
- Difficulty in breathing and confusion
Why ignore even a tiny crack in the tooth and then pay for a complicated dental surgery later?
Maintain oral hygiene habits, and get your infected teeth treated on time. Most importantly, don’t delay the extraction of severely decayed teeth. If you are in Roswell (GA), you should indeed consider fixing an appointment with TruCare Dentistry for a checkup.