Dental infections – bad for your mouth, bad for your body
The health of your mouth can be a good indication of the health of your body. Infections and disease involving the teeth and gums have been linked to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and osteoporosis among other medical conditions.
It all starts with inflammation, the body’s response to dental infections, such as:
- Abscessed tooth
- Dental caries (cavities, tooth decay)
- Gingivitis (inflamed gums)
- Pericoronitis (inflammation between emerging wisdom tooth and flap of gum)
- Periodontitis (bone loss caused by chronic gingivitis)
- Pulpitis (infection of nerves, blood vessels beneath decayed or broken tooth)
Poor oral hygiene, which allows harmful bacteria to build up in the mouth, is usually to blame for dental infection although sometimes trauma or a suppressed immune system may trigger the problem.
Signs and symptoms of dental infections like cavities and gingivitis
Symptoms of dental infections vary depending on the source of the infection. If you have a cavity, for example, your teeth may be more sensitive to hot and cold liquids. You may also experience a throbbing or aching in the area of the affected tooth.
Other dental infection symptoms may include:
- Aching in jaw or face in the diseased gum area
- Bad breath
- Bad taste in the mouth
- Bleeding when brushing teeth
- Swollen cheek in the affected area
- Swollen neck glands
- Swollen, red gums
While cavities and bleeding gums may not seem like emergencies, any infection within or below the tooth must be treated as soon as possible. Untreated dental infections can lead to more serious and sometimes fatal conditions such as sepsis.
Practicing good dental health and treating dental infections
Practicing good oral hygiene such as brushing and flossing as directed by your dentist is the best way to fight dental infection. If infection is present, treatment may include topical or oral pain relievers, antibiotics, drainage (around an abscessed tooth), and in some cases, surgical extraction.
At Main Line Health our dental staff, including oral and maxillofacial surgeons, is here to provide you and your family with the finest general dental and restorative care available.