Dr. Elizabeth Duling is a general dentist in Owen’s Cross Roads, AL. She has experience treating patients with tooth pain and discomfort. Tooth infections are among the most common dental concerns we treat at our Owen’s Cross Roads, AL, office. Our local dentist’s office offers several treatment options to help get rid of the infection and help restore oral health.
Tooth decay is a highly damaging dental problem. At first, a dental infection can begin with occasional tooth pain. However, a tooth infection can break down your natural teeth over time. Tooth decay creates holes in the teeth, wears down the teeth, and can ultimately lead to permanent tooth loss.
How Do Teeth Get Infected?
Your mouth contains bacteria that help keep your mouth healthy. However, leftover food in the mouth can attract bad bacteria that create dental infections.
A tooth infection begins when harmful bacteria feed on sugars and starches left in the mouth. As these bacteria feed on leftover debris in the mouth, their digestive acids break down the teeth. The acids wear down the tooth enamel, or outer tooth layer. Over time, this creates cavities or holes in the teeth.
When your infection reaches the inside of the tooth or tooth chamber, it affects the dental pulp. The pulp comprises vessels, cells, and blood vessels that keep teeth alive. Without professional treatment, you can lose permanent teeth to tooth decay.
How Do I Know I Have a Tooth Infection?
You may not have a dental infection if you have mild tooth pain. Brushing too hard or accidentally hitting your tooth can cause tooth pain. An infection inside your tooth is almost unbearable and hard to dismiss. Some patients may even be unable to lie down or even sleep through the pain and discomfort.
The signs and symptoms of a tooth infection include:
- Constant, extreme pain that may spread to the jaw, neck, and ear
- Pain and sensitivity to hot and cold food and beverages
- Unable to bite to chew due to severe pain
- You may develop a fever
- Swelling on the side of the face where the infection is
- Difficulty breathing from swelling
- Foul-smelling breath
- Bad taste in your mouth
- Swollen lymph nodes in the neck
When you notice a change in your oral health, contact our office. Early intervention can prevent the need for more invasive dental treatments.
What is a Dental Abscess?
A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that can form if you develop a tooth infection. This pocket forms on the outside of the tooth, typically at the tooth roots or in the gums. Signs that you have a tooth abscess include fever, severe tooth pain, and swelling in your face or neck.
An abscess can spread to the sinuses and other areas of the face. If the pocket of pus bursts, it feels like a rush of salty fluid in your mouth. While this can relieve your pain, it doesn’t mean you don’t have an infection. You still need professional dental treatment.
We can drain a dental abscess in our office by making a small incision. Our office can also provide a root canal or extraction if needed. If the abscess bursts, we can still drain it. We will also recommend warm water rinses to clean the mouth.
When Should I Visit My Dentist?
You should call our dentist as soon as possible if you experience symptoms of a dental infection. Dr. Duling considers a tooth infection a dental emergency and will try to see you as soon as possible. Ideally, we would like to treat you before the infection gets serious. A tooth infection must be treated and will rarely get better. Without treatment, you risk the infection spreading to other parts of your body and causing serious harm, even death.
If you are in extreme pain, have a fever, or have issues swallowing or breathing, we encourage you to go to an emergency room. This may indicate that your infection has spread, and you will need medical help immediately. We recommend visiting a hospital when you cannot get a hold of our office and have a dental emergency.
Treatment for a Tooth Infection in Owens Cross Roads, AL
The type of treatment you need will depend on the severity of your tooth function. Dr. Duling will examine your tooth to determine the best course of action. You may require antibiotics to recover from the infection entirely. Antibiotics help fight harmful bacteria after professional treatment in our office.
Root Canal Procedure
A root canal procedure is the best treatment to eliminate the infection and save the natural tooth. Our dentist will drill a small hole in the tooth and remove all the infected tissue. She will also drain the abscess. Then, Dr. Duling will clean out the tooth chamber and fill the root canal and chamber.
Dr. Duling often suggests a dental crown to protect and strengthen the tooth. Crowns are tooth-colored caps that fully cover single teeth.
We make every effort to preserve your natural tooth. However, a dentist may need to remove your tooth in severe cases. Tooth extraction is necessary when you have a severe infection, and our dentist feels she cannot save the tooth. Dr. Duling may recommend a dental extraction if not enough of your tooth structure is left.
If you have an infected tooth, Dr. Duling will remove the tooth. She can also drain an abscess if needed. Then, she will thoroughly clean the area and discuss your options to replace the tooth.
Dental implants are the premier tooth replacement for one or more missing teeth. If we remove one tooth, we will recommend a single crown-capped implant. We may recommend a bridge if you have consecutive missing teeth. Dentures secured by dental implants can also restore full arches of missing teeth.
Call Today to Book Your Appointment
Tooth pain is not normal. If you think you are suffering from a tooth infection in Owen’s Cross Roads, AL, call our dental office at 256.202.4186. We will do our best to get you in as soon as possible. Our office welcomes you to ask questions about your symptoms and treatment options.