Did you know that teeth are made up of enamel, the strongest substance in our bodies? Enamel is actually the second hardest naturally occurring substance on the entire planet. The only harder substance is diamonds.
When brushing and flossing, your teeth may seem impenetrable, but inside each tooth are soft tissues, nerves, and blood vessels. The soft, innermost part of a tooth is susceptible to infection if exposed to bacteria. A cavity, crack, or chip will allow bacteria to enter the tooth’s core. There the bacteria find a warm, wet, ideal environment for growth. With time the bacteria eat away natural tissues and destroy a tooth’s life source, its nerve.
An infected tooth usually presents several warning signs, five of which are outlined below. Becoming familiar with these symptoms can help you recognize a potential infection early, so you can seek professional advice. Colleyville oral surgeon, Dr. Chris Tye, can confirm if infection is present. Should you need root canal therapy, the doctor can refer you to a respected endodontist in the area. In many cases, an infected tooth requires extraction – particularly if the tooth has had previous root canal therapy (RCT). Dr. Tye offers extractions, as well as dental implants to replace unsalvageable teeth.
Infection inside a tooth creates pressure on the nerve. This causes pain, and as the infection grows, pain worsens. You may notice pain with hot and cold, pressure, or when the tooth is at rest, depending on the extent of the infection. Most people will experience dental sensitivity of some level.
Throbbing or sharp pain
If you have an infected tooth, you could experience a constant, dull, throbbing sensation in the tooth, or the pain may radiate to your jaw and head. Some patients report sharp pain when biting or chewing. Regardless, the presence of pain is the most common indication of an infected tooth.
Swelling around your jaw or cheeks
As the body attempts to fight off illness, an increased flow of blood and fluids will be diverted to the area to supply infection-fighting white blood cells. This can cause inflammation, so you may notice a swollen appearance in your cheeks and jaw around the affected tooth.
Fever is one of your body’s natural responses to fighting off infection. A prolonged fever can be an indication of dental infection if you also have a toothache.
Swollen lymph nodes below your jaw or neck
Swollen lymph nodes are a sign that your lymphatic system is doing its job to rid your body of bacteria or viruses. The lymph nodes closest to an infection are likely to swell. When you experience enlarged or tender lymph nodes underneath your jaw or in your neck, it can be a sign that your lymphatic system is draining toxins from an oral infection.
If left untreated, a dental infection can spread to other areas of your head and neck and even enter the blood stream to cause additional health concerns. If you have one or more of the symptoms we reviewed, schedule an appointment with your general dentist immediately. If your tooth is not salvageable, call Dr. Tye’s office to discuss extraction and replacement options.
Dr. Tye our team at Texas Oral Surgery Specialists are currently accepting new patients. Call 817-552-3223 to schedule your consultation.