Ignoring a Dental Infection: What's the Worst That Could Happen?

Dentist Blog

It's never a wise course of action, but some people might ignore the warning signs of a dental infection. You know you should visit a dentist to have the issue professionally examined, but for whatever reason, this has not yet happened. What's the worst that could happen without treatment for a dental infection?

Easily Treatable (in the Early Stages)

Perhaps you were unable to make the time to see a dentist, or perhaps you were hoping that the infection would clear up without professional assistance. The frustrating thing about dental infections is that they're easily treatable in their early stages, but If the infection is permitted to spread, the matter can become extremely serious. 

Key Warning Signs

There are key warning signs that an infection that originated in or around a tooth has spread. Should the tooth be experiencing an abscess, there is likely to be a prominent swelling in your gums at the base of the tooth. This swelling may display a small pustule, much like a pimple, and is likely to be extremely painful. If this isn't enough to make you hurry to the dentist, there are other signs to watch out for:

  • A swelling that has spread from the point of origin, and encompasses your gums, cheek, and even your neck
  • Fever and a general sense of fatigue
  • Vomiting and nausea
  • Headaches that cannot be managed with over-the-counter pain medication

As the infection progresses and overwhelms your immune system, more serious symptoms will arise. Your respiratory system will become compromised, making it difficult to breathe. Your vision may also be affected. In these later stages, you may need to bypass seeing a dentist and emergency medical care can be needed. Before it gets to this stage, see your dentist. What will your dentist do?

At the Dental Clinic

Your dentist is able to take decisive action to stop the infection in its tracks. An incision will be made in the abscess in order to drain it, and you will be given antibiotics. Prescription pain relief is available, if warranted. Your dentist will also need to perform a comprehensive examination to ensure that the infection hasn't damaged your teeth and their support structures. The tooth where the infection originated will likely need further treatment, and a root canal may prove to be necessary.

Ignoring the warning signs of dental infection can be disastrous to your health, and can even lead to septic shock. It might seem fairly harmless to ignore the early warning signs of a dental infection, but you do so at your own peril. Make an appointment with a dentist if you've noticed any of the above symptoms. 


9 December 2021

Dental Health: Not To Be Taken For Granted

As a retired dentist, I work with charities which visit developing countries and educate children about dental care. It gives me great satisfaction to revisit these communities and see how proud the children are of their efforts. I am acutely aware that good dental hygiene can help prevent a range of serious conditions when these children become older. I started this blog because it greatly distresses me that many people in Australia do not seem to care for their teeth as much as children in these poor communities. This is happening despite ready access to items like toothbrushes and toothpaste which are luxuries in the places I visit. It is my hope that this blog encourages you not to take dental health for granted. My greatest wish is that you can be as inspired as the children I see in my charity work. Please read on and enjoy.