Bacteria can cause a tooth infection when they enter the pulp, which is the nerve and soft tissue of the tooth. Tooth decay, injury, or previous dental procedures can all cause this.
“A tooth infection, while uncommon, can be fatal. Within weeks or months, an untreated tooth disease can expand to different tissues in your body, posing a life-threatening threat,” says Dr. Rajat Sachdeva, one of the excellent dentist in Delhi.
Dr.Rajat Sachdeva, the originator of Dr.Rajat Sachdeva’s Dentistry, is a dentist with above fifteen years of experience and an enthusiasm for laser aesthetics and dental implants.
Dr. Rajat Sachdeva is a clinical expert with a wealth of experience. He is highly knowledgeable and holds several certificates and degrees. The world-famous Delhi dentist is frequently invited to perform educational surgeries in various ambiances both in India and abroad.
Here in this article, the doctor discusses how a tooth infection can lead to death, how long it can take, and when you should go to the hospital in the sections below.
Can death occur due to tooth infection?
Bacteria enter the inside of your tooth, which contains a soft tissue called the pulp, to cause tooth infection. A pocket of pus forms around the affected tooth as the condition worsens. It is known as a dental abscess.
In the 1600s, dental infections were the fifth or sixth leading cause of death in London. Even until 1908, dental infections resulted in death in 10% to 40% of the cases.
Death from a tooth infection is now uncommon due to advances in medicine and dental hygiene. If you suspect you have an infected tooth, however, you should seek treatment right away.
A tooth infection can spread to other parts of the body if neglected untreated, resulting in severe, potentially life-threatening complications such as:
- Sepsis: an overreaction of the body in response to infection
- Ludwig’s angina: a severe bacterial infection that affects the floor of the mouth, underneath the tongue
- Necrotizing fasciitis: a severe infection that causes the death of soft tissues in the body
- Cavernous sinus thrombosis: a potentially fatal blood clot in the sinuses, located just beneath the brain and behind the eyes
- Mediastinitis: inflammation of the mediastinum (the space between your lungs)
- Endocarditis: it is an inflammation of the inner lining of your heart.
- Osteomyelitis: an infection of the bone tissue
- Brain abscess: a collection of pus that can form in the brain
How fast could a tooth infection kill you?
The time it takes for a tooth infection to lead to death varies. We’ll take a closer look at this question.
How long does an abscess take to develop?
According to Dr. Rajat, abscesses caused by tooth decay can take months to form. It can take a long time for decay to reach and damage the pulp in the center of a tooth.
Meanwhile, a tooth that has been injured or traumatized may allow bacteria to enter the tooth more quickly. It can occur as a result of injuries such as a cracked or chipped tooth.
When an abscess forms, what happens next?
Once an abscess has formed, swelling and intermittent, throbbing pain around the affected tooth are common symptoms.
It is a red flag that something is not correct. However, you will most likely experience dental pain in your tooth due to the cavity before it becomes an abscess.
Case studies of severe illness or death caused by tooth infections frequently describe persistent toothaches that last weeks or months before seeking urgent or emergency treatment.
Antibiotics got used to treating toothaches in many case studies during this period. Antibiotics alone, on the other hand, are rarely effective in the treatment of a dental abscess.
If your tooth can get saved, tooth decay must get treated with an extraction or a root canal.
“A dental abscess that goes untreated for weeks or months can spread to other parts of the body, including the jaw, neck, and brain,” says Dr. Rajat.
It can result in severe symptoms such as difficulty swallowing, breathing problems, and the inability to open your mouth.
If you do not take care at this point, death can happen quickly, sometimes in a matter of days.
What factors can cause an abscess to become infected?
Several factors can raise your opportunities of developing complexities from a dental abscess, such as:
- Older people
- Having diabetes
- Being immunocompromised
To summarise, the development of a dental abscess can take several months.
When an abscess forms, it usually causes pain and swelling around the affected tooth.
If left untreated, the infection could expand to other tissues and create complexities in a few weeks or months. Death, on the other hand, can strike quickly once this has occurred.
Complications from a dental abscess can increase by factors such as advanced age, diabetes, or being immunocompromised.
Overall, these statistics emphasize the significance of attempting medical help as soon as possible if you’re feeling tenacious discomfort or swelling around a tooth.
Most tooth infections can be resolved without severe complications if caught early.
When should I visit the dentist if I have a tooth infection?
A tooth infection won’t go away on its own. It requires timely treatment so the infection doesn’t spread.
See a dentist if you notice symptoms like:
- Throbbing pain in the area of the affected tooth
- Gums that are red and swollen
- A persistent bad taste in your mouth
- Bad breath
- Discoloration of the affected tooth
- Tooth sensitivity, either due to pressure or exposure to hot and cold
Some symptoms indicate that a tooth infection has progressed to the point of being severe.
Dr. Rajat says, “if you develop additional symptoms, go to an urgent care center or the emergency room. Symptoms such as:
- A fever
- A general feeling of unwellness(malaise)
- Lymph nodes swollen
- Nausea or vomiting
- Difficulty breathing
- Accelerated heart rate
- Swelling around your neck, face, or eyes
- Inability to open your mouth or jaw (trismus)
- Difficulty speaking or swallowing
Follow your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right, don’t hesitate to seek care. Even if your symptoms aren’t due to a tooth infection, they may be caused by another health condition requiring immediate treatment.”
How is a tooth infection treated?
Treatment options for a tooth infection include:
- Drainage: To drain the abscess, a dentist will make a small incision in your gums. However, this is usually only a band-aid solution, and additional treatments are frequently required.
- Root canal: The infected pulp gets removed from the tooth during a root canal. The inside of the tooth is carefully cleaned and filled. After that, a crown gets placed to help restore the tooth.
- Tooth extraction: When a tooth becomes infected and cannot be saved with a root canal, it may be extracted.
- Antibiotics: Antibiotics are antibiotics that can kill bacteria. They’re sometimes used to treat infections in the teeth. You may be given oral antibiotics or intravenous (IV) antibiotics, depending on the severity of your infection. Along with the antibiotics, your tooth will require a root canal or extraction.
Is it possible to treat a tooth infection with home remedies?
You can try the following home remedies to help relieve symptoms while you wait for treatment:
- Try Naproxen (Aleve), ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin), or acetaminophen (Tylenol) over-the-counter pain relievers.
- Soft foods should be consumed, and you should eat in your mouth opposite from the infection.
- Avoid foods and beverages that can irritate an infected tooth, such as extremely hot or cold, acidic, spicy, complex, or crunchy.
- Brush your teeth with a soft-bristled toothbrush and avoid flossing around the affected tooth.
- Clean your mouth with a saltwater or hydrogen peroxide clean to ease discomfort and swelling.
- Put a frozen compress near the afflicted space to ease pain and swelling.
- Garlic has antimicrobial properties, so apply it to the infected tooth.
- The home remedies listed above should only be used while you wait for medical help for your tooth infection. They should not be used in place of seeking treatment.
Keeping a tooth infection at bay
According to Dr. Rajat, there are several things you can do in your daily life to help prevent a tooth infection. It includes:
- Brushing your teeth twice a day with fluoride toothpaste
- Flossing between your teeth every day and avoiding sugary or starchy foods and beverages
- Dental cleanings and exams regularly
- Any tooth pain or injury, such as a chip or crack, should be addressed by a dentist.
Last but not least
- A tooth infection can have severe or even life-threatening consequences.
- Sepsis, Ludwig’s angina, and cavernous sinus thrombosis are just a few examples.
- If left untreated, a tooth infection can spread to other parts of the body over weeks or months.
- This can cause severe symptoms like fever, difficulty breathing, or trouble swallowing. Death can occur quickly without immediate care.
- When you have a tooth infection, you will experience pain and swelling around the affected tooth.
- This is a sign that you should schedule an appointment with a dentist for an examination.
- Many dental infections can be effectively treated with a root canal or extraction.