Why Do Teeth Become Infected?

A dental infection is a serious oral health concern, one that could eventually increase the risk of tooth loss. How does one develop? In addition, what can be done to treat them and prevent further infections from occurring? Understanding what causes a tooth to become infected can help you recognize early warning signs and take appropriate measures before the tooth is lost.

What Causes an Infection?

Our teeth are composed of multiple layers. The outer most is coated in the hardest substance in the human body, tooth enamel. Beneath this, dentin makes up a majority of the structure. Finally, at the center and in the canals is the pulp, the tooth’s nerve center. An infection occurs when the enamel is compromised, allowing decay to form in the dentin and eventually reach the pulp. Injury or advanced tooth decay that isn’t addressed in a timely manner can lead to an infected tooth.

How Do I Recognize the Symptoms?

There are a number of potential symptoms of an infected tooth, including:

  • Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • Toothaches
  • Pain when eating
  • Fever
  • Swelling near the tooth
  • Foul tasting discharge

If one or more of these symptoms seem familiar, then schedule a visit with your dentist. The doctor can examine your smile and see if you need treatment. Remember, without treatment a dental infection can eventually kill the tooth, which will then require extraction to avoid the spread of infection to other teeth or into the jawbone.

Will I Need a Root Canal?

Often we can treat an infected tooth with a root canal. The procedure involves opening the tooth and removing the infected tissue. The tooth is then thoroughly cleaned and disinfected before a restorative material is added. The procedure is completed with the addition of a lifelike dental crown.