A toothache that’s painful enough to make your face and jaw swell is a sign of something worse than a cavity. You could be suffering from a painful tooth infection, also known as a “tooth abscess”.
We normally flush out mouth bacteria by brushing and flossing every day. But when bacteria that’s left behind manages to invade a tooth, pus can build up along the roots and surrounding gums. Left untreated, this infection can spread to other parts of your head and neck. In fact, it can even worsen into sepsis and spread all over your body.
Symptoms of a tooth infection spreading to other parts of the body
Even though it’s rare for an abscess to spread and infect other parts of your body, it can indeed happen if your infection isn’t properly treated. Sepsis can even occur if your abscess has ruptured and entered the bloodstream. It’s best to seek medical help right away if you notice any of these symptoms.
- Severe pain
- Severe swelling
- Irritated, itchy, or burning skin
- Sudden changes in vision
- Severe headaches
- Intense or difficult breathing
- Stiff neck
Can a tooth infection go away on its own?
Unfortunately, it isn’t possible for a tooth abscess to just go away on its own. When an abscess isn’t drained properly it can rupture and spread to other parts of your body. Simply waiting for the pain to go away will only result in further infection of your bloodstream, jawbone, and even your skin and mouth.
Your dentist may treat your infection by draining out all the pus and washing the affected area with salted water. He or she may also have to perform a root canal in order to save the affected tooth. But in cases where the tooth can no longer be salvaged, your dentist will need to perform a tooth extraction in order to drain all the abscess and prevent any further infection.
Tooth infections and antibiotics
You probably won’t need antibiotics if your tooth infection isn’t that severe. But your dentist will need to prescribe antibiotics if your tooth infection has worsened and spread to other parts of your mouth and body. You might also need antibiotics if you have a weak immune system.
Amoxicillin is the most commonly prescribed medication for tooth infections. Some dentists will also prescribe metronidazole or clavulanate alongside amoxicillin in order to better treat the infection. If you’re allergic to penicillin your dentist may let you use clindamycin instead. Metronidazole is also commonly used to treat tooth infections, although you’ll need to avoid using products containing alcohol while taking it.
Treating a tooth infection at home
Although home remedies are an incredibly effective way of relieving pain and discomfort, they can’t be relied upon as a cure-all for serious health problems. It’s best to have your infection treated by your dentist first before you begin treating the affected tooth at home.
There are a few ways to relieve pain and keep your mouth clean after your visit to the dentist. Most dentists will recommend a salt water rinse since it can wash out pus and bacteria, as well as soothe any pain and discomfort. If salted water isn’t enough to relieve pain and swelling, you might need to take over-the-counter pain medications like ibuprofen.
Some people have used clove oil, tea bags, and other home remedies to reduce swelling and pain. Although these might have antibacterial and natural anti-inflammatory properties, it’s still best to consult your dentist first and ask about the safest remedies. Some oils can also cause serious health complications when accidentally ingested, so do remember to be careful with the treatment you choose.
What can I eat if I have a tooth infection?
When recovering from any oral surgery it’s best to eat food that isn’t hard, sticky, or sugary. You’ll want to eat food that’s soft and easy to chew and swallow. You might want to avoid food that’s extremely hot or cold since these can aggravate your tooth and cause pain.
Some suggested foods for people with tooth abscess include:
- Bananas and other soft fruits
- Yogurt and cheese
- Macaroni and cheese
- Pureed meats and vegetables
Preventing a tooth infection
Most cases of dental abscess are often caused by untreated cavities, injuries, and poor oral hygiene. Here are the best ways to prevent a painful tooth infection.
1. Go Easy on the Sugar
Too much of a good thing is never good. Sugar may taste good, but too much of it can help harmful mouth bacteria spread and invade your teeth. It’s best to limit your sugar intake and cut back on the sweets. If you have no choice but to munch on some taffy or pastries every day, try drinking water afterward to prevent sugar from building up on your teeth.
2. Drink water with fluoride
Fluoride is a mineral that strengthens teeth and prevents the onset of tooth decay. You can protect your teeth from the spread of nasty bacteria and plaque by drinking water fortified with a healthy amount of fluoride. However, if your water sources at home don’t contain fluoride, you can still get your daily dose from dairy, food, and supplements.
3. Practice proper oral hygiene
The best way to keep nasty bacteria from infecting your teeth is to simply practice proper oral hygiene at home. Brushing and flossing at least twice a day doesn’t just remove mouth bacteria. It also strengthens tooth enamel so that nothing invades the pulp and roots. You can also protect your teeth by enhancing your oral hygiene routine with interdental brushes, fluoride mouth rinses, and other tooth protection essentials.
Another great way to keep your teeth in great shape is to use a high-quality dental scaler. Meeteasy’s dental scaler is specially designed to get rid of bacteria, plaque, dirt, and tartar stuck to places where your toothbrush just can’t reach. After just a few days of use, your teeth are sure to become whiter, cleaner, and stronger than ever before! See the results for yourself and buy your very own top-quality dental scaler off our online store with just one click.