Symptoms of tooth infection spreading to body – To provide some context around this questions let us first break down infection types into 2 main categories – Infections of the mouth can be either tooth-related, gum-related, or both.
What are tooth-related dental Infections?
Inside every tooth is a nerve which is the part of the tooth that is ‘alive’.
When you eat something cold or bite into something hard, it is your nerve that feels the cold and hard sensation and alerts your brain that this wasn’t normal.
When a dental cavity grows large enough to reach the nerve, the bacteria from the cavity can make its way towards the nerve and eventually start infecting it over time.
Because the nerve has blood vessels in it, this infection can eventually spread into your bloodstream. In most instances, you will feel some amount of pain before this infectious process starts to spread! Visit your dentist before the infections starts spreading. A typical situation we see as dentists is a patient who comes into the office after having experienced pain for multiple days or weeks. I’ll take this moment to stress that if you feel tooth pain see a dentist…immediately.
Symptoms of Tooth Infection Spreading to Body
- Puffiness of the jaw area around the tooth
- Soreness of the tooth and surrounding areas
- Facial swelling on the side of the infected tooth
- Fever or elevated body temperature
- Headaches, migraines or ear aches.
Another way that dental infections can spread to your bloodstream is by swallowing food and drinking beverages which are some activities of daily living. Think about it, we chew and swallow food in the same mouth where dental bacteria in a deep cavity are residing. Do you think that is a healthy environment for your mouth and body?
The obvious way to prevent this is to simply brush, floss, and use mouth rinse regularly. The best dental advice I can give is to focus on prevention to stop these problems from occurring before they start.
Now that we have covered tooth-related infections, let us speak to gum-related infections.
What are gum-related dental infections?
Think of the gums and bone as the support system for the teeth. If you think of a house – it has to have a strong support underneath it to be built. The gums and bone are the foundation on which your teeth reside.
Gum disease or Periodontitis is a disease where the gums and bone are unhealthy and shrink due to chronic bacterial attack. The bacteria reside in little ‘pockets’ around your gum and are not flushed out by regular brushing. Again, this comes back to focusing on preventative care and regularly brushing!
Studies have shown that over time this colony of gum bacteria can spread to other organs of the body such as the heart and kidneys and can cause life threatening infections of those vital organs.
1) Dental infections are not only limited to the mouth, quite the contrary. Infections can spread from the mouth to the bloodstream and even lead to Sepsis. These infections can be very serious and should be treated as such.
2) The best way to fight dental infections is prevention:
- Brush and floss regularly
- Visit your dentist for regular check-ups and cleanings
- Attend your post op visits after any dental work, this is your dentists chance to check for infections
- Use your teeth for eating, not opening packaging, cans, etc
- Use a mouth guard for any sports where your teeth may be at risk (hockey, football, basketball, etc)
3) There are certain people who are more prone to dental related infections:
- As mentioned, folks with poor dental hygiene will always be more likely to experience a myriad of dental related problems, including infections
- Dry mouth creates a scenario where bacteria is likely
- People with high sugar diets will be more likely to experience dental related infections, but also more likely to need dental work due to cavities, etc
4) If you are experiencing any of the aforementioned signs of infection then see your dentist…immediately! Your dentist will need to do an evaluation before determining the best course of action. Try to get a same day appointment as time will be of the essence and it will be imperative that the dentist sees you right away. In the interim, try to avoid very hot or cold foods. Naturally, you will also want to avoid chewing on the side of your mouth that may be hurting.