Although routine dental cleanings and exams can go a long way toward preventing cavities and infections, problems 一 including tooth and gum infections 一 can still pop up between dental exams.
Because oral infections can cause significant discomfort and potentially lead to more severe problems if left untreated, Dr. Ana Chester and our team here at Chester Family Dentistry want you to know how to recognize the signs of an infection so you can seek timely dental care.
Let’s take a look at these two types of infections and the four common signs of an infection that shouldn’t be ignored.
Tooth infections versus gum infections
Tooth infections and gum infections are both oral health issues that can cause significant discomfort and potential complications. However, they differ in terms of the affected structures and symptoms.
Tooth infections typically originate from deep within your tooth, often resulting from untreated cavities. They’re characterized by persistent toothaches, sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures, and localized swelling.
On the other hand, gum infections primarily affect the soft tissues surrounding your teeth. They are commonly caused by gum disease, poor oral hygiene, or injuries to the gums. Symptoms of gum infections include swollen, tender gums, bleeding while brushing or flossing, and persistent bad breath.
While both types of infections require professional dental care, recognizing the specific symptoms can help in identifying the source of the problem and receiving appropriate treatment.
4 common signs of infections
While tooth infections and gum infections have different sources, they do share many of the same symptoms. These include:
1. Persistent pain
One of the primary indicators of a tooth or gum infection is persistent pain. If you experience a constant, throbbing pain in a specific tooth or a generalized ache in your mouth, it could be a sign of an infection. The pain may worsen when you bite down on food or apply pressure to the affected area.
Inflammation of the gums is another common sign of an oral infection. If your gums appear red, swollen, or feel tender to the touch, it may indicate an underlying issue. Healthy gums should have a pale pink color and feel firm. However, when an infection occurs, the gums can become puffy and sensitive. In some cases, you may notice a small bump or pimple-like swelling on the gum near the infected tooth.
If your infection is severe, you may also experience facial swelling.
3. Bad breath or unpleasant taste
Persistent bad breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth, even after practicing good oral hygiene, can be a sign of a dental infection. Bacteria thrive in the oral cavity, and when an infection is present, these bacteria can produce foul-smelling compounds that cause bad breath.
Additionally, the accumulation of pus or discharge from the infected area can create an unpleasant taste in the mouth.
4. Fever and fatigue
If a tooth or gum infection becomes severe, it can lead to systemic symptoms such as fever and fatigue. The infection may spread beyond the localized area, causing an immune response and resulting in an elevated body temperature. Feeling tired or lacking energy, along with other flu-like symptoms, may indicate that the infection has become more severe and requires immediate dental attention.
What to do if you spot the signs of an infection
Recognizing the signs of a tooth or gum infection is vital for early intervention and effective treatment. If you experience a persistent toothache, swollen or tender gums, bad breath, or an unpleasant taste in your mouth, schedule an appointment at our Warren, Ohio, location.
Dr. Chester reviews your symptoms, examines your mouth, determines the source of your infection, and recommends the appropriate treatment. Your potential treatments may include:
- Antibiotics to clear the infection
- Root canal to address an infection deep in your tooth
- Scaling and root planing to address gum infections
- Medicated mouthwashes
- Lifestyle modifications, such as improved hygiene practices, rinsing with salt water, and applying cold compresses to combat swelling
Remember, untreated infections can lead to more severe complications, such as abscesses or the spread of infection to other parts of the body. To get the relief you need, schedule a consultation by calling us at 330-331-9026.