Your dentist has expertise in detecting many signs of oral infection, and a semi-annual dental exam is the best opportunity to leverage it. Some infections or severities of infection qualify as a dental emergency. But what kind of infection you have counts. If you develop any of the following symptoms, you should call in and ask about the case and severity of your infection!
Fever is a sign of infection, and it’s a common bodily response when your immune system detects a virus or other microbe. But fever can result from your immune system detecting foreign bodies elsewhere, not just your mouth. Oral infections should give off several more symptoms on top of fever, many of them visible in your mouth.
Gums Redness & Bleeding
With infection comes inflammation, your immune system’s response to foreign bodies. When it comes to the naturally occurring bacteria in your mouth, a little is fine. But as this type of bacteria thrives, it produces plaque. Plaque is the acidic waste product of this type of organism, and the toxins within it trigger inflammation in your gums.
Early reaction to plaque amounts to gingivitis. If nothing is done, gingivitis can worsen and become gum disease. Gum disease (periodontitis) is extensive gum inflammation, leading to receding gum lines, and even loose teeth as inflammation penetrates deeper and begins to affect your bone.
To recover from these conditions, excellent dental hygiene forms the most important factor. Brushing and flossing daily are your first line of defence, as are consistent dental cleanings!
Cavities are a sign plaque has burned through your enamel. If cavities make it to the fleshy inner part of your teeth, it can develop into an abscess, requiring root canals and dental crowns to deal with the inner infection. While fillings can solve the problem of cavities near the surface, the effects of tooth decay quickly morph into infection when they reach the center of your teeth.
Tooth Pain When Chewing & Biting
Tooth pain could be a sign of many things but, if the inner part of your teeth become home to bacteria, infection can set in. There are a couple of common ways we see this happen in our patients:
- Tooth decay
- Broken or cracked teeth
Each can lead to abscess, a serious bacterial infection. Abscess can happen in other places within the body, but within your teeth, they can become unusually painful. The inner parts of your teeth have very sensitive nerve endings, so pain there could result from infection. At this point, a root canal and a crown for each infected tooth might be your best hope.
Infection reaching near the roots of your teeth can manifest as gum discolouration. The perfect shade of gums might be rare, but if one spot is a dark shade and appears more discoloured than usual, infection near a tooth’s root might be the cause. Discolouration tends to indicate restricted blood flow or infiltrated plaque deep within affected teeth. It might take antibiotics to clear it, but if there’s decay causing the infection, a root canal and a crown might be required.
Swelling in the Gums
Swollen gums can also reflect infection at a tooth’s root. There might also be signs of inflammation, but it mostly demonstrates disjointed blood flow between root blood vessels and the pulp chambers of your teeth. This type of swelling can become more and more noticeable as time goes by. If left untreated, abscess can worsen and make a root canal necessary.
Swelling on the Head & Neck
Swelling on the head and neck can indicate complications of a worsening abscess, as the infectious fluids enter your bloodstream. Chances are, if you’ve reached this stage, you have many other warning signs that should give you all the warning you need. At this stage of infection, your health could be in danger.
Trouble Swallowing & Breathing
Trouble swallowing or breathing can indicate that the swelling is more internal than external. But either way, it indicates advanced complications of abscess, where the inflammation reaches past your mouth and into your head and neck. It could go hand in hand with swelling on the head and neck.
Unpleasant taste is another symptom related to abscess, the presence of pus deposits that haven’t broken. But not all cases of infection are due to bacteria. Just as there are other microbes out in the wild, there could be several other microorganisms causing you oral infection.
Loss of Taste
One example is thrush, an oral fungus, where a loss of taste and smell might replace an unpleasant one. Medical treatments like antibiotics, chemotherapy, and radiation can trigger outbreaks. In case of thrush, unsweetened yogurt or acidophilus can help restore your mouth’s normal bacteria.
Pimples or Blisters
Another example are blisters forming at the back of your throat, leading to burst ulcers, easy caused by herpangina. This infection is caused by Coxsackie virus, Enterovirus, and Echovirus. Pimples on your gums could be a sign of internally leaking infected fluids moving within your gums. They tend to form at the back of your mouth and they can last 3-5 days, typically.
Ask Your Dentist if Your Infection is a Dental Emergency
Signs of infection can seem overt, but they might also be a little subtle. After all, gum disease is a bodily reaction to out of control bacteria in your mouth—with the kind of inflammation you might expect from unusual infections. In case of abscess of your teeth, a root canal is your best bet. But other infections may require medications, surgeries, or special treatments.