Tooth Infection

Imagine an agonizing toothache that won’t go away, even if you take over-the-counter painkillers. That’s what it’s like to have an infected tooth. You should respond to any dental pain with a visit to your family dentist, if for no other reason than to find the cause of your pain. A tooth infection is especially dangerous, because a tooth infection can spread to neighboring teeth, to your bone and to the rest of your body. If you believe you have a tooth infection, contact Dental Associates of Morris County right away.


A tooth infection is one of the most painful toothaches you can experience. It’s dangerous, too, since it can spread. But the throbbing pain is what first catches your attention. An infected tooth affects everything you do, since it becomes difficult to concentrate on anything other than the pain.

When an infection causes swelling, that makes the pain twice as bad. And because the tooth infection can spread, you need to act fast to stop it. Visit your restorative family dentist at Dental Associates of Morris County. Your dentist has the state-of-the-art tools and vast experience necessary to identify and treat a tooth infection.

What Causes a Tooth Infection?

You can get an infected tooth for many reasons. Most are preventable. The best way to keep infections from occurring is the same to maintain good oral health: brush twice a day, floss every day and get a bi-annual checkup from your dentist. Other causes of a tooth infection include:

  • Constantly eating sugary snacks and drinking soft drinks
  • Ignoring severe gum disease symptoms
  • Getting a cavity and not being treated for it
  • Having had an earlier large filling that deteriorated
  • Getting a root canal infection following a root canal
  • Suffering an injury or tooth trauma, which causes a cracked or broken tooth
  • Getting a wisdom tooth infection from an impacted wisdom tooth

An infected tooth sometimes creates an abscess, which forms underneath your gum line, either at the tip of the tooth root or beside the tooth root. It’s a painful condition, and it can spread to other teeth or even to your bone. Eventually, that infection can invade your bloodstream, causing sepsis, a life-threatening medical condition.

What Are Tooth Infection Symptoms?

You’ll feel pain, that’s certain. An infected tooth is one of the most painful dental conditions due to the combination of nerve impingement and pressure. If you think you have an infection, contact your dentist right away. Consider it an emergency.

Tell your family dentist at Dental Associates of Morris County if you experience infection symptoms such as:

  • Swollen cheeks, gums or face, especially if the swelling makes breathing or swallowing difficult
  • Intense throbbing pain that doesn’t disappear and may even radiate to your neck, jaw, face and ears
  • A fever higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit
  • A stabbing pain when chewing
  • Sudden and dramatic sensitivity in your teeth to cold and hot drinks or food
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes in your neck that cause pain

If you suddenly taste a foul, salty fluid in your mouth, along with a sense of less pain, you may have just experienced a burst abscess. The release of the pressure means less pain, and the taste was the built-up pus. The infection still needs to be treated, but report the experience to your dentist.

How Do You Treat an Infected Tooth?

Your Madison, New Jersey dentist has many ways to treat a tooth infection. The first priority is containing the infection so it doesn’t spread. That’s the real danger. Depending how far along the infection is, some treatment techniques include:

  • A round of antibiotics, both topical and oral
  • A thorough cleaning
  • A root canal procedure
  • Periodontal dental surgery, including a gum graft, if needed
  • A tooth extraction, as a last resort

After the infection has gone, you may still need additional treatment. For example, if you have a wisdom tooth infection, it may be time to pull those teeth. If your problem was a root canal infection, your dentist may need to do a root canal retreatment, with a new dental crown to make sure the tooth is protected and the infection doesn’t return. A change in your diet may also be called for.

Preventing an Infected Tooth

After you and your dentist have defeated the infection and you have a clean bill of health, you have to stay vigilant and monitor your dental health. Continue — or start — practicing good dental health at home, including:

  • Drink plenty of fluoridated water
  • Brush your teeth twice a day
  • Floss after meals or at least once a day
  • Rinse with a dentist-approved antiseptic mouthwash
  • Ask for a fluoride treatment whenever you visit your dentist
  • Limit the sugar in your diet

Develop a relationship with your family dentist at Dental Associates of Morris County. When he knows you and your history, it’s easier to spot the beginning of an infection and treat it before it gets too bad. Contact your dentist quickly the next time you think you have an infection.