How Do You Know if You Have a Tooth Infection?

July 16, 2021 Jeffrey T. Baker, DDS PC

Are your teeth suddenly overly sensitive to hot and cold foods? Does it hurt to bite down when you chew? If so, you’ll want to schedule an appointment with our Shelby Township emergency dentists. The longer you wait to seek emergency dental care, the more time the problem will have to worsen.

Tooth Infection Dentists Shelby Township Mi

Here’s how you can tell whether you have an infected tooth and what you can do prior to being seen by our dentists.

What Is a Tooth Infection?

A tooth infection (also called an abscess) is a pocket of pus trapped within your tooth. If left untreated, the infection will spread to the tips of your tooth roots. At that point, your only option would be an emergency root canal or tooth extraction.

You may be at higher risk for an abscessed tooth if you neglect your oral hygiene. Once a cavity is deep enough to penetrate the inner chamber of your tooth, you’ll develop an abscess. This means that the live tissue (pulp) inside your tooth is infected.

What Does a Tooth Abscess Look and Feel Like?

A tooth abscess is painful. In fact, your teeth may be throbbing and keeping you awake at night. We always recommend that our patients come to us before they’re in unbearable pain. That way, we’re able to catch issues when they’re small and at their most treatable.

Signs you have an infected tooth may include:

  • Severe toothache
  • Sensitivity to hot and cold foods
  • Difficulty swallowing
  • Pain when biting down
  • Fever
  • Swollen, tender lymph nodes in the neck or jaw
  • Swollen face or cheeks

Recognize any of the above symptoms? If so, schedule an appointment with our emergency dentists. The longer you ignore an abscessed tooth, the more you jeopardize your health.

Don’t think that the abscess is gone if the pain subsides. While you can manage some of the pain from home, our dentists will need to remove the infected dental pulp. We’ll then have to reseal the tooth and cover it with a dental crown. If our dentist can’t salvage the tooth, we’ll extract it before the infection spreads to your jaw.

Can a Tooth Infection Go Away on Its Own?

No, a tooth infection will not go away on its own. Instead, it’ll only get worse until the abscess bursts. When this happens, the infection will spread to your jawbone, as well as the rest of your head and neck. You may even develop sepsis, which is life-threatening.

Do NOT ignore the symptoms of a tooth infection! If you suspect you have an abscessed tooth, you’ll need to call our emergency dentists as soon as possible. The sooner you call, the more likely we’ll be able to save your tooth. For example, our dentists may be able to treat a small abscess with a root canal. Otherwise, you’ll need emergency tooth extraction.

What Can I Do for an Infected Tooth?

First, you’ll need to schedule an appointment with our emergency dentists. We are available to answer any questions you might have and can diagnose you properly if your tooth is infected.

In the time before you are seen and treated you can try:

  • Carefully brushing your teeth after every meal
  • Drinking sage & chamomile tea
  • Swishing saltwater (½ tsp of table salt & ½ cup of warm water) 2 to 3 times a day
  • Applying an ice pack (but never directly to your skin; use a cloth or another buffer)

Make an Appointment

If you are experiencing extreme dental pain and think you may have a tooth infection, our emergency dentists in Shelby Charter Township, MI, can help. To request an appointment, call the dental office of Jeffrey T. Baker DDS PC at (586) 992-9222.

This blog post has been updated.

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