Can a Tooth Infection Spread to Jaw

Dental Abscess

An abscess usually occurs as a result of an untreated tooth decay, an injury, or prior dental work. It is a pocket of pus around the root of a tooth which can form next to the tooth, called a periodontal abscess, or at the tip of the tooth roots, a periapical abscess. If you are experiencing pain in your tooth and jaw, visit your dentist as soon as possible so they can examine and x-ray the area to diagnose the issue.

If your dentist suspects you have an abscess, they may be able to provide a prescription for an antibiotic or, if it is more severe, can refer you to a periodontist for treatment. A periodontist can treat a tooth abscess by draining it to get rid of the infection along with antibiotics. If the tooth is severely infected, they may be able to save it with a root canal treatment, but in some cases the tooth may need to be extracted.

Causes of Dental Abscess

Decay or a fracture in your tooth can lead to an abscess. An abscess happens when bacteria gets into the pulp, the innermost part of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue by way of a cavity or crack in the tooth. Left untreated, the infection can spread all the way down to the root and cause swelling and inflammation at the tip of the root, forming an abscess.

Symptoms of a tooth abscess include:

* Sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages
* Sensitivity to pressure
* Swelling in the face or cheek
* Throbbing toothache that can radiate to the jawbone, neck or ear
* Tender, swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck
* Fever

There are a few factors that may increase your risk of a tooth abscess which may include:

* Poor oral hygiene
* A diet high in sugar
* Dry mouth

Preventing A Dental Abscess

There are a few steps you can take to prevent a dental abscess from forming.

* Brush at least twice a day and floss at least once a day
* Maintain a healthy diet, limiting sugary treats
* Visit your dentist for regular checkups and dental cleanings at least twice a year
* Use oral care products containing fluoride to help protect against tooth decay

Possible Complications

A tooth abscess requires professional treatment. If an abscess should rupture, pain may decrease significantly but treatment is still necessary. If the abscess does not drain, the infection can spread to your jaw and other areas of your head and neck. You can even develop sepsis, a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout your body.

When To See A Doctor

If you have any signs or symptoms of a tooth abscess, you should see your dentist right away. If you experience fever and swelling in your face and cannot get to your dentist, go to an emergency room; hospitals have a dentist on staff and will be able to treat you.

If you experience difficulty breathing or swallowing, seek medical attention immediately. Such symptoms may indicate that infection has spread deeper into your jaw and surrounding tissue or even to other areas of your body.

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