Tooth Infection – Signs, Symptoms, Cause & Treatment

Throbbing pain in the tooth or bad breath coming from your mouth can be an indication of tooth infection. Our teeth are provided with a great network of nerves. When bacteria invade the tooth, through a cavity or an injury, it stimulates pain sensation in the nerves of the tooth pulp. These infections only affect a very small part of the mouth, but the pain is significant.

A serious tooth infection can transform to a tooth abscess. An abscess is a build-up of pus that accumulates when a bacterial infection breaks down tissue. The resulting accumulation of pus is usually very painful.


What is a tooth infection?

A tooth infection is basically an invasion of bacteria inside the tooth and triggering of negative responses from our body. These bacteria reproduce and release some toxins which damage the vital tissues of the tooth and cause inflammation.

Signs and symptoms

Most initial sign of tooth infection is the pain where the infection has invaded the tooth. Even a minor tooth infection can keep you up all night, and it’s very necessary that you seek for dental help for immediate relief.

Following are some signs of a severe tooth infection that may spread to your jaw bone or surrounding area:

  • Severe and persistent throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, eye, neck or ear.
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures.
  • Swelling in your face or cheek over the area of infection.
  • Swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in the neck.
  • Pressure sensitivity to chewing or biting.
  • Bad breath coming from your mouth.
  • Bad taste in your mouth.

Causes of a tooth infection

Accidental injury or infection in the tooth can cause the pain in or around the teeth. It usually affects those having poor oral hygiene which can further lead to a dental abscess.

Any tooth can become abscessed because all your teeth have sensitive tissue vulnerable to infection. Dental complications are uncommon but without treatment, the condition is likely to become worse, and you might lose a tooth.

The primary cause of tooth infection is poor oral hygiene. There are many causes for a tooth infection. A very common cause of infected tooth is when a dental cavity becomes so large and deep that it reaches the pulp chamber (innermost part of the tooth).

The tooth gets inflamed as bacteria starts accumulating in the cavity. In some rear cases, the infection can reach to jaw bone which may need extensive oral surgery. So it’s important to visit your dentist if you suspect a tooth infection or abscess.


Your dentist will ask you about previous tooth infections. Your dentist will properly examine your infected tooth and surrounding area.

An X-ray of the infected tooth can help identify an abscess and to determine if the abscess is spreading to other parts. If the infection has spread to other parts, the dentist will quickly begin with the treatment.

Treatment of a tooth infection

A tooth infection won’t go away without treatment. In case of a tooth abscess, if the abscess ruptures, the pain may decrease significantly at the moment, but you still need dental treatment.

If the abscess doesn’t drain, the infection may spread to your jaw and other areas of your head and neck. You might even develop sepsis which is a life-threatening infection that spreads to other parts of your body.

  1. In the case of a tooth abscess, the dentist will open up and then drain the abscess, then wash the infected area with saline.
  2. To exterminate the infection and save the tooth the dentist may recommend you root canal treatment. Your dentist will drill to the inner tooth and remove infected pulp and drain the abscess. The dentist then seals the pulp chamber and root canal.
  3. If the tooth cannot be saved or the root canal fails the dentist will extract the tooth and drain the abscess to prevent the infection to sored to other parts of the mouth.
  4. If the infection has spread to the jaw bone and other parts, then your doctor will recommend you some antibiotics to stop the infection from spreading to other parts.


A tooth infection can be very painful and discomforting, but it is very avoidable if proper measures are taken. Taking good care of your oral health can prevent any kind of oral infection.

  • Brush and floss your teeth daily to prevent plaque formation.
  • Avoid sugary food and beverages.
  • Use fluoride toothpaste.
  • Brush your tongue.
  • Consider an antibacterial treatment.
  • Drink plenty of water.
  • Stick to tooth-healthy food.
  • Visit your dentist every six months.

Over to you on tooth infection

A tooth infection can spread to other areas and may cause serious damage. Therefore it’s the best if you immediately check with your dentist if you get symptoms like a severe toothache, bad breath or swollen red gums.


An abscessed tooth should clear up after a few days of treatment. Even if it drain on its own, it’s essential to follow up with your dentist to make sure the infection doesn’t spread to another area.

You can reduce the risk of tooth infection by maintaining good oral hygiene and getting regular dental checkups.


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