How Do I Know if My Tooth Infection Is Spreading?
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How Do I Know If Tooth Infection Has Already Spread

A tooth infection, also called a dental abscess, is an infection that can result in a range of problems if left untreated.

In fact, neglecting a tooth infection can lead to it spreading throughout your mouth and to other areas of your body.

Although this rarely happens, the condition can become serious and could potentially even be life-threatening.

To answer the question, “how do I know if my tooth infection is spreading?” consider the following signs and symptoms:

  • Severe pain in mouth and tongue
  • Your face, neck, or cheeks start to swell
  • Experiencing nausea and vomiting
  • Having a very high fever
  • Experiencing persistent headache
  • An itching sensation on the skin
  • Lightheadedness and rapid pulse rates
  • Drooping eyelids, double vision, or loss of vision
  • Having a hard time breathing

You can minimize the risk of experiencing any of these problems if you seek dental treatment for your infected tooth immediately.

What Happens If a Tooth Infection Spreads to the Jaw?

A tooth infection will not go away if it does not receive the right treatment.

You may feel less pain once the abscesses rupture, but dental treatment is still necessary.

If the abscess is not drained by a dentist, the infection can spread throughout the mouth and into your jaw. Infection that affects the jaw can harm the soft tissue surrounding this area.

The following are the potential health concerns that could happen when you leave a dental abscess unattended:

Loss of Infected Tooth

Leaving an abscessed tooth without treatment can cause it to become weak, and you will eventually lose it. But if a tooth infection is treated early, you can get a root canal procedure and a crown to save it.

In severe cases, tooth replacements using dental implants are going to be necessary if you wish to restore normal oral function.

However, an implant can only be supported once the infection has been eliminated from the surrounding area.

Surrounding Bone Gets Infected

The bones in our face are unable to tolerate the presence of an infection for a long time.

Leaving an infection to spread to your facial bones may eventually necessitate surgical removal to stop it.

Even in minor cases, a tooth infection can cause the bone structures of your jaw to weaken, making it hard to support your teeth.

Inflammation Leading to Sepsis

Sepsis, also known as septicemia, is a condition wherein your bloodstream gets infected. Being a natural response of the body, sepsis increases the presence of antibodies in a specific area by sending more blood.

Septicemia caused by a dental infection happens when an infected abscess ruptures into the blood and starts circulating in the body.

Being diagnosed with sepsis is a highly life-threatening condition that usually leads to being hospitalized with antibiotics applied intravenously.

Oral Soft Tissue Infection

An infection in one of the teeth that has roots leading to the sinus area can result in a sinus infection. This condition can be very painful and difficult to treat once it sets in.

Young african american woman looking at mirror

Furthermore, any soft tissue inside the mouth and its surroundings are vulnerable to being affected by the infection.

When the abscess spreads to these areas, this can cause several complications ranging from problems with the airway to facial cellulite.

Brain Abscess

Another severe condition you can get when you neglect treating an abscessed tooth is a brain infection. This health problem often requires hospitalization to get it treated properly.

The infection from a tooth abscess can go into the brain in many ways, often leading to one of the conditions mentioned above.

Getting a brain abscess is hard to remedy due to the blood-brain barrier.

How Is a Tooth Infection Treated?

The treatment for a tooth infection is going to depend on a few factors.

Dentists look into the location of the abscess, the extent of its spread, and how the patient’s immune system reacts to the infection.

With that said, here are the possible treatments to fix an abscessed tooth.

Root Canal

A root canal treatment is an approach that eliminates an abscess that has gone deep within the tooth. In this procedure, the dentist drills a hole into the tooth to eliminate accumulated bacteria and pus at its roots.

Root Canal Treatment

Once the abscess has been dealt with, the dentist fills the hole with a rubbery substance so it can heal.

After healing, they then restore the tooth using a permanent filling or crown to prevent further infections.


When a root canal treatment is not enough to eliminate tooth infection, a dentist could recommend an approach called an apicoectomy.

This is especially true once the infection has spread to the roots and the tissue of the tooth. In this procedure, the gums of the patient are opened so that the dentist can remove the roots of the tooth together with the abscessed tissue.

Sepsis Treatment

People who have been diagnosed with septicemia will have to be sent to an intensive care unit for treatment.

With this approach, intravenous antibiotics and fluids are required to treat the patient.

Other treatments such as dialysis and surgery may be necessary to support the body of the patient while limiting the damage from the infection.


If the infection is not too serious, a dentist may simply prescribe patients antibiotics. Such medication is intended to help reduce the infection and prevent it from spreading.

An infection that has already spread may necessitate an extension of the antibiotic treatment.

Alternatively, your dentist may recommend switching you to a different type of medication. In severe cases, patients will have to receive their antibiotics through intravenous drips at the hospital.

Keeping the Infections at Bay

Tooth infections are horrible, and people should get them treated as soon as possible.

Delaying or neglecting dental treatment can result in tooth infection spreading to areas around the mouth and even to other parts of the body.

The most common methods of treating tooth abscesses are root canal treatment, apicoectomy, sepsis treatment, and antibiotics.

If you suspect you have a dental infection, seek dental treatment immediately to prevent the abscess from spreading.

More from Elements Dental Spa Family Dentistry

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What You Should Know About Preparing For Multiple Tooth Extractions

Elements Dental Spa Family Dentistry offers a variety of dental care services and treatments in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

Led by Dr. Cecilia L. Luong, her team of dentists has been assisting clients with different teeth, gum, and mouth problems.