Tooth Infection Symptoms, Treatments and FAQs

What are the signs of a tooth infection, and what can you do to treat a tooth infection at home? These are some common tooth infection FAQs that we hear from our family dentistry patients. If you think you might have a tooth infection or you’re trying to prepare for the future, the guide below can answer most of your questions.

What Causes Tooth Infections?

Most tooth infections are caused by a simple chain of events. There is some sort of opening in the tooth or gums that allows bacteria in. That bacteria makes itself at home in the tissues or pulp, and then the tooth becomes infected.

The opening in question may be the result of untreated tooth decay, an old cavity, chips or cracks in the tooth, old/new injuries, or anything that leaves the tooth vulnerable to bacteria. Gum disease may also play a role in tooth infection, so it’s important to treat that as quickly as possible.

Signs of a Tooth Infection

Most patients don’t notice a tooth infection until it becomes painful, but you may catch signs before then. Tooth infection symptoms include:

  • Sharp or shooting pain in your tooth, jaw or gums
  • Radiating pain to the neck or ears
  • Bad breath
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
  • Feeling like you can’t get relief, no matter how much you press on your cheeks
  • Redness and swelling on the gums
  • Visible abscess near the gumline
  • Throbbing pain that may occur constantly or only when chewing
  • Fever

Note that not all tooth pain is infection. There could be other factors at play, each with their own prognosis and treatment. See your dentist to find out what’s causing your symptoms and how to best address them.

How to Treat a Tooth Infection

Tooth infection treatment usually happens in two parts. Most patients seek out temporary pain relief at home while they wait to see the dentist, and then they get an official treatment plan from the dentist. Here are some temporary home remedies for tooth pain:

  • Rinse your mouth with warm salt water to cleanse the infected area
  • Take over-the-counter pain relievers, such as ibuprofen or acetaminophen
  • Use a cold compress on the outside of the face to minimize inflammation
  • Apply an over-the-counter oral numbing agent to the infected area
  • Check out these toothache care tips for more info

The suggestions above are not designed to fully treat the infection, but they can provide pain relief before treatment. Official tooth infection treatments may include:

  • Oral antibiotics (take for the entire prescription, not just until symptoms subside)
  • Tooth decay care, such as a filling or crown
  • Tooth extraction if the tooth cannot be salvaged
  • Root canal to remove the infected inner pulp
  • Incision in the gums to drain the abscess
  • Prescription mouth rinse

The type of treatment you receive will depend on the severity of the infection, the location of the infection, and your long-term smile goals. Clinton Dental Center can customize a plan that’s right for you.

Will a Tooth Infection Go Away on Its Own?

An untreated tooth infection is unlikely to go away on its own. It is possible for the infection to kill the pulp inside your tooth, thus stopping the pain. The infection itself will still be prevalent though, and it will continue to get worse. We highly recommend seeking prompt treatment so you can protect your smile and alleviate your pain.

Schedule a Dentist Appointment for Tooth Infection Treatment

If you have a tooth infection and you’re facing unbearable pain, it’s important to seek treatment right away. The pain is unlikely to go away on its own, and it may only get worse with time. Contact your family dentist to schedule an appointment. If you need a dentist in Chesterfield MI, reach out to Clinton Dental Center at (586) 949-5363. We work with patients of all ages, and we can create a personalized treatment plan for you.