What Happens if a Tooth Infection is Left Untreated?

The Best Dental Experience You’ll Ever Have

Our Mission: To Help You Thrive and to be a Champion of Local Wildlife Conservation

A tooth infection is a serious oral health issue that requires immediate attention. Ignoring or leaving a tooth infection untreated can lead to complications that extend beyond your mouth. Tooth infections, also known as dental abscesses, typically start due to untreated tooth decay or trauma that allows bacteria to penetrate the inner layers of a tooth. If you suspect you have a tooth infection or are experiencing persistent dental pain, don’t delay seeking professional dental care.

How to Know If You Have a Tooth Infection?

Detecting a tooth infection in its early stages is crucial for preventing complications and ensuring timely treatment. Understanding the signs and symptoms can help you proactively address the issue before it worsens.

  • Persistent Pain: A throbbing or sharp pain around a specific tooth or in the jaw can indicate an infection.
  • Sensitivity: Heightened sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures, especially when the sensation lingers after the stimulus is removed.
  • Swelling: Swelling of the gum tissue around the affected tooth is a common indicator of infection.
  • Discoloration: Discoloration of the tooth, often appearing darker than surrounding teeth, can point to an underlying issue.
  • Pimple-like Bump: The presence of a pimple-like bump on the gums, called a gum boil or dental abscess, can signal infection.
  • Foul Taste or Odor: An unpleasant taste or odor in the mouth, even after brushing, may indicate infection.

While some symptoms may be obvious, diagnosing a tooth infection requires the expertise of a dental professional. If you suspect you have a tooth infection or experience any of the symptoms mentioned, don’t delay seeking professional care.

How Long Can I Wait Before Seeking Treatment?

Delaying treatment can lead to a chain of events that not only increases discomfort but also escalates the severity of the infection. What may start as mild discomfort or sensitivity can quickly escalate into severe pain and swelling.

  • Early Stages (Weeks 1-2): In the initial stages, you may experience occasional discomfort and sensitivity. The infection remains localized within the tooth.
  • Intermediate Stage (Weeks 2-4): Without treatment, the infection progresses. Pain becomes more consistent, and sensitivity intensifies. The infection may start affecting the surrounding gum tissues.
  • Advanced Stage (Weeks 4-8+): By this point, the infection can cause severe pain, swelling, and a noticeable pimple-like bump on the gums. The risk of systemic complications increases as bacteria can enter the bloodstream.

The longer you wait to seek treatment, the higher the likelihood of complications arising. Abscesses can form, leading to intense pain, fever, and facial swelling. Additionally, the infection can compromise the structural integrity of the tooth and surrounding tissues.

What Treatments Are Available for Tooth Infection?

When it comes to treating a tooth infection, there are several approaches based on the severity of the infection and the extent of the damage. Seeking prompt, professional care is essential to determine the most suitable treatment path.

Antibiotics and Drainage

For mild infections, a dental professional may prescribe antibiotics to control the spread of the infection. However, antibiotics alone are not a definitive solution; they help manage the infection temporarily but don’t address the underlying cause. In cases where an abscess has formed, drainage may be necessary to relieve pain and pressure.

Root Canal Therapy

In cases of more advanced infections or severe decay, root canal therapy is often recommended. This procedure involves removing the infected pulp from the tooth, cleaning and disinfecting the canal, and sealing it to prevent future infection. Root canal therapy not only eliminates the infection but also preserves the tooth’s structure and function.

When treated early, the infection can be effectively controlled, and the damage can be minimized. However, delaying treatment can lead to complications, including needing more extensive treatments and potential tooth loss.

Tooth Infection Treatment in Portland, ME

A tooth infection may seem like a minor inconvenience, but its impact can extend beyond your mouth. If you suspect you have a tooth infection or experience any symptoms, don’t delay seeking professional dental care; schedule an initial consultation at Thrive Dental Studio in Portland, ME. Dr. Figueiredo and his team provide care that addresses dental infections promptly and effectively.

Dan Figueiredo, DMD

Dan Figueiredo, DMD

Dr. Dan Figueiredo, a graduate of Tufts University School of Dentistry, blends his artistic talent and scientific acumen to provide high-quality, patient-centric dental care in Maine. Recognized for his transparent communication and his commitment to continuous learning, he stays abreast of the latest dental advancements through regular attendance at esteemed dental institutes and continuous education courses. Beyond his practice, he passionately embraces Maine’s outdoor heritage, participating in competitive trap and sporting clays shooting, engaging in seasonal outdoor activities, and eagerly anticipating his next international travel adventure.