If you have an infected tooth, it should be treated as an emergency. An infected tooth isn’t just painful, it’s a source of infection that is a risk for your other teeth, your health, even your life. Fortunately, root canal therapy (also called an endodontic procedure) can remove the infection and restore the beauty and function of your tooth. We know that most people think root canal therapy is painful, but it’s more a procedure that relieves pain, thanks to modern dental practice.
Symptoms of an Infected Tooth
An infected tooth, also called an abscessed tooth, is a serious dental condition, and it should be treated as an emergency. How do you know you have an infected tooth? Here are some common symptoms:
- Spontaneous tooth pain
- Lingering sensitivity to heat and cold
- Dental pain that wakes you or keeps you from sleeping
- Discolored tooth
- Constant bad breath or foul taste in the mouth
- Swollen area like a pimple on gums
- Localized warm area near tooth
Most people associate a severe toothache with an infected tooth. But not all infected teeth are painful. They may have little pain, or the pain may flare up at first, then diminish when the tooth nerve dies.
If one of your teeth spontaneously turns darker than the others without any recent trauma, you should suspect a tooth infection.
The oral bacteria living inside your tooth may produce foul-tasting, smelly compounds. As these leak out, you might notice a constant bad taste or smell from your mouth.
As infection spreads from your tooth to the bone, it can create an abscess on your gums, a swollen area like a pimple. This pimple may remain whole, or it may burst, causing pus to leak out. The area of infection might feel warmer than the surrounding area because the oral bacteria are reproducing and your body is responding.
An infected tooth can even trigger your body’s immune system to run a fever. Other times, you might notice that you’re coming down with more common and worse colds than normally. That’s because your immune system is stressed by the infection.
Why an Infected Tooth Is an Emergency
People often think that dental care can be put off, that it’s less important than other medical care. This isn’t true, and it’s especially important to treat an infected tooth as an emergency.
That’s because an infected tooth can quickly become a much more serious health hazard. Oral bacteria from an infected tooth, like those from gum disease, can spread through your body. They can contribute to your heart risk, increasing the likelihood that you’ll experience a heart attack or stroke.
But an infected tooth can also become a deadly infection. The interior of your tooth is the ideal place for deadly anaerobic bacteria to grow. In the tooth, the bacteria can grow safe from your immune system and safe from oxygen. When the bacteria are strong enough, they can emerge, overwhelm your immune system and spread to your sinuses, then to the brain, get into your lungs, or they can infect your blood and attack your body in multiple places at once, leading to sepsis.
The Root Canal Therapy Procedure
Root canal therapy works to remove the infection from your tooth. We will drill to get access to the infected interior of the tooth. Then we’ll remove the infection from the tooth, even that in the roots of the tooth, the so-called root canals. Then we fill the tooth with inert material that helps support the tooth but resists infection. Finally, the tooth is sealed, typically with a dental crown, which supports, protects, and beautifies the infected tooth.
Root Canals Relieve Pain
Root canals have a reputation of being the worst possible medical procedure. However, this reputation comes from the early days of the procedure, when it was performed without anesthesia. In that situation, the procedure couldn’t help but be painful. Modern root canals are conducted with proper anesthesia, so you will feel little if anything during the procedure. We also offer IV sedation dentistry, which allows you to be in a deeply relaxed state before and during your root canal treatment.
Within a few days of the procedure, most people report that they are experiencing less pain than before the procedure.
You don’t have to live with the pain of an infected tooth. Please call (907) 274-7691 today for an appointment with a reconstructive dentist at Denali Dental Care.