6 most frequent causes of tooth infection and treatment


1)Tooth decay

Your teeth are made up of the hard calcified outer shell and the inner soft pulp tissue. The enamel and the dentin make up the hard part. The pulp has the nerves and the blood vessels. A tooth decay happens when the bacteria in the plaque damages the hard calcified part of the tooth. When the damage is limited to the enamel or the dentin, your tooth can be saved with a simple filling. However, when the bacteria reach the inner pulp tissue, infection in the tooth sets in. This causes pain and swelling in the tooth.

Treatment: A decay in the enamel or dentin can be treated with a filling. A tooth infection has to be treated with a RCT.( Root Canal Treatment)

2)Tooth abscess

A swelling at the end of the root of your tooth is a “Periapical Abscess”. This type of a swelling is seen in the mouth at the point where the root of the tooth ends. This swelling is seen closer to the buccal sulcus and is generally limited to the infected tooth. However, this type of infection can spread into the facial spaces quickly. Severe cases can lead to septicaemia and even death. 

Treatment: A “Periapical Abscess” s treated with a RCT. Once the infection is drained and the root canals are cleaned and filled, the site of infection heals. Your dentist will prescribe some antibiotics and pain killers to treat the tooth pain and infection. Warm saline mouth rinses are helpful to help heal the swelling.

3)Gum infection

A gum infection can be a “Periodontal Abscess” or a “Gingival Abscess”. This type of a infection starts with ‘bleeding gums’. When you ignore bleeding gums, then the infection goes deeper into the supporting apparatus of your teeth called the ‘Periodontal Liganment’. An infection and swelling in this ligament causes an abscess. Periodontal Abscess can seen around failed implants and is called “Peri-implantitis”

Treatment: Early stages of gum infection can be treated with a simple scaling procedure. When the abscess forms in the gums, this infection is treated with procedures like root planing, curettage and/or flap surgery. LASERS are also used to treat this condition. Your dentist can prescribe some antibiotics and pain killers for the healing of the abscess. Warm saline rinses are helpful too. Failed implants have to be removed.



4)Combined tooth-gum infection

Sometimes an infection from the tooth can spread to the gums and vice versa. Such combined infection of the tooth and gums need special attention. These conditions have to be diagnosed properly by clinical evaluation and good radiographs. Combined infections of the teeth are seen as swellings of the gums and tooth pain.

Treatment: A clinical diagnosis will establish the primary lesion. Accordingly, an RCT and /or  gum treatment procedure will be planned by your dentist. These kind of combined infections require elaborat treatment procedures and can be time consuming. A combined team effort by your dentist, endodontist and periodontist will help resolve the issue. Again your dentist can prescribe antibiotics and pain killers to treat the infection. Anti bacterial mouthwashes be given to keep the infection under check. 

5)Food impaction

Sometimes food remains between teeth causing a swelling in the gums. Sharp objects like a tooth pick or a pin can cause damage to the gums. Hard bristles of a tooth brush or fibres in course foods can also damage your gums. Such swellings of the gums are called “Gingival Abscess”. Gingival abscess can also happen due to plaque bacterial and poor oral hygiene.

Treatment: Gingiva abscess resolves when the offending source of infection is removed. Proper oral hygiene measures, scaling and simple fillings generally suffice. Your dentist will guide you in the proper oral hygiene habits like brushing, flossing, selection of proper tooth brush.

6)Fractured tooth

A broken tooth is the cause of infection in the tooth. A tooth breaks when it becomes weak. A decay, large unsupported fillings, old fractured restorations, root cries are some of the reasons why your tooth becomes weak. A tooth so weakened causes infection in the tooth and when it fractures causes infection in the gums also. 

Treatment: Visit your dentist regularly for check ups. Your dentist will be able to detect any old fractured fillings that will need a refilling. Teeth with large fillings will need an RCT and crown. Teeth with root caries have to be evaluated for their prognosis before proceeding with RCT. These types of infections may sometimes need elaborate treatment procedures. Your dentist will make a proper treatment plan and guide you accordingly.


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