Dental infection symptoms that are not treated can become severe and spread to other parts of the body. Learn more about this!

Sometimes the dental infection symptoms are not taken seriously by the sufferer. Leaving an infected tooth untreated can have serious, even life-threatening consequences.

In this article we discuss the main symptoms of a dental infection. Also, what happens if it spreads through the body and how it can be treated.

What are dental infection symptoms?

A dental infection, also known as a dental abscess, is the accumulation of pus in a tooth due to the entry of bacteria. Microorganisms can enter the tooth through untreated cavities, fractures, cracks, or leaked dental fillings.

Dental infection can be located in different regions of the dental element. If it is located at the tip of the root, it is called a periapical abscess; If instead it occurs in the gums, on the sides of the tooth root, it is called periodontal abscess.

Some of the symptoms of a dental infection are as follows:

  • Pain: throbbing sensation in the tooth and intense, stabbing and persistent pain that radiates to the neck, ear and jaw. It gets worse when lying down.
  • Sensitivity: Discomfort is felt when chewing, when grinding the teeth and with hot or cold food.
  • Injury to the gum: swelling in the gingival area close to the tooth. It has the appearance of a pimple from which pus drains. Bursting may decrease pain, but it does not mean that the infection is cured.
  • Swelling in the area: increase in volume in the face or cheeks in the vicinity of the affected part.
  • Swollen lymph nodes: The lymph nodes in the jaw and neck are swollen and tender to the touch.
  • Fever.
  • Bad breath and unpleasant taste in the mouth.
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing.

How it spreads to the body?

If it is not treated, the dental infection will not go away. Sometimes abscesses burst and the pain goes away, but the bacteria remain inside the tooth, so treatment is still necessary.

Leaving a tooth abscess untreated can have serious consequences, as the infection can spread to other areas, such as the jaw, head, and neck. Even bacteria travel through the bloodstream and cause sepsis (an infection that spreads throughout the body and can be fatal).

Symptoms of a dental infection that spreads to the body may include the following signs:

  • General malaise: the patient has fatigue, headache, dizziness and lightheadedness.
  • Fever: increased body temperature. It is accompanied by sweating and redness of the skin or unexplained rashes.
  • Swelling in the face: increase in the size of the face, swelling of the floor of the mouth or the infraorbital area. This makes it difficult to breathe and swallow. There is an inability to fully open the oral cavity and discomfort to move the tongue. The skin is tight, hot and painful.
  • Dehydration: there is less frequency of daily urination. There may be pain when urinating with dark, concentrated urine. The patient may be confused.
  • Increased heart rate: the pulse is rapid and may be accompanied by chest pain.
  • Increased respiratory rate: more than 25 breaths per minute.
  • Stomach problems: abdominal pain, vomiting and diarrhea.

How to intervene before the symptoms spread?

When you feel pain or discomfort in a tooth, suffer a dental trauma or notice a cavity, a hole or stains in the teeth, it is best not to let a long time pass and consult a dentist to treat the problem before it worsens. Taking an anti-inflammatory, avoiding very hot or cold foods, or chewing on the other side of the pain can alleviate the situation, but they are not a substitute for treatment.

When presenting the symptoms of a dental abscess, it is important to immediately consult a dentist to treat the infection. In cases in which the toothache is accompanied by fever, swelling of the face, difficulty in breathing or swallowing, it is advisable to go urgently to an emergency room, as they are indicative that the dental infection is spreading to the body.

Possible treatments

To treat the symptoms of a dental infection, the dentist will try to get rid of it by applying some of these options.

Drainage of the abscess

The dentist makes a small incision over the abscess to drain the pus from it. They apply pressure to encourage all the content to come out and wash the area with physiological solution. Sometimes it is necessary to leave a rubber drain so that the wound does not close and material continues to come out.

Root canal

In order to eliminate the infection and preserve the affected tooth, the dentist can perform a root canal or root canal treatment. It consists of drilling the dental element until reaching the center of the tooth, where the infected pulp tissue is.

The dentist cleans each canal of the tooth and drains it with instruments and washes. They fill the ducts and seal them. Then, they fill the tooth with a filling or crown to restore its anatomy.

Dental extraction

In cases where root canal treatment is not possible, the infected tooth should be extracted. In the surgery you also have to drain the accumulated pus and clean the infected area very well.


Beyond the dental treatment that you get, it is usually necessary to supplement with the use of antibiotics. In fact, antibiotics help kill bacteria, prevent the infection from spreading, and promote recovery.


Patients with symptoms of a serious dental infection spreading throughout the body should go to a hospital and urgently se a maxillofacial surgeon.

Dentists administer antibiotics intravenously along with surgical drainage of the abscess. They evaluate the degree of respiratory involvement and monitor the patient for the possibility of sepsis.

How to avoid a dental infection?

To prevent the annoying symptoms of a dental infection from appearing, there are attitudes and habits that should be practiced in the usual way. Therefore, proper oral hygiene is the key to having a healthy mouth.

Frequent brushing and flossing are necessary to prevent cavities, which, if left untreated, can lead to infection. Therefore, the use of fluoride and a balanced diet with little sugar content will also prevent this tooth disease.

Regular visits to the dentist make a difference. It is ideal to carry out dental check-ups every 6 months.

Letting go of the symptoms of a dental infection can have serious consequences. Before any discomfort in the mouth, recommendations are to consult a dentist to deal with the problem immediately, before it worsens.

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