How long can a tooth infection go untreated?

Sherwood Park Dental - Patient with a tooth infection

If you’ve ever known someone who has endured a tooth infection, you probably know that it can be a harrowing experience! Not only is it painful but many of us don’t know what we’d do if we ever had a dental infection outside the office hours of our Sherwood Park dentist. At Sherwood Park Dental, these are some of the most common questions we answer about dental infections:

How does an infection start?

Dental infections are the result of bacteria infecting the teeth and/or tissues. This can occur when a dental cavities become so deep that they enter the core, if a filling has a defect or if a tooth is cracked. Sometimes, we know what is causing our problem – we’ve been putting off the dentist for months. Other times a dental infection may be a mystery.

Do I have an infection?

If you have an infection, it is often painful to open and close your mouth – especially after a period of rest. You may have redness in your face and pain that increases when you lay down. A bad taste that just keeps seeping into the mouth despite rinsing and brushing is usually a sign that infection is draining into the mouth. You may have severe pain – but in some cases pain is negligible. If your pain is manageable but you see other signs of infection, it’s important to prioritize seeing a dentist.

At Sherwood Park Dental, we tell our patients that a tell-tale sign of dental infection is a pimple on the gums. If the pimple hasn’t erupted, you will likely see pus contained but it may burst on its own. Finally, if you develop a fever, it is a sign that your body is working hard to fight off an infection.

Does every infection require treatment? 

Yes. Dental infections can become serious if they begin to spread into blood and other areas of the body. In some cases, infections can become septic and begin shutting down organs. At this point, the infection is life-threatening.

Do I need an emergency dentist in Sherwood Park or a family dentist in Sherwood Park?

Family dentists, general dentists, and emergency dentists can all effectively treat a dental infection when it is isolated to the oral cavity. Most dental clinics in Sherwood Park, like Sherwood Park Dental, maintain some flexibility in their schedule in order to fit in dental emergencies that cannot wait.

What if my tooth needs to be pulled?

In some cases, an infected tooth needs to be pulled but in most cases the tooth can be saved with a root canal. A root canal opens and drains the tooth before removing all its inner tissue. Without that tissue, the tooth is no longer ‘alive’, but it can remain in place. Typically, root canals are closed using a crown which is like a customized shell that fits over it permanently. Crowns keep the tooth strong and protects it from sensitivity while keeping bacteria out.

Crown technology has evolved significantly in the last decade, so you needn’t worry that your crown will look artificial and out of place. Your crown will be colour matched to your natural tooth shade and shaped in the likeness of your natural tooth.

Your dentist will provide you with a course of antibiotics to ensure that the infection resolves. It is important to let your dentist know if you have any prescription allergies, such as penicillin and take the full course of treatment as directed.

What if the pain stops before I see a dentist?

When you have a dental infection, your pain will build to a climax if there is no intervention. Once the nerve inside of your diseased tooth dies from the infection, it will no longer be able to send a pain signal to the brain – leaving you to think that maybe you’re out of the woods. You might not need a dentist after all! In fact, the opposite is true. Once the nerve dies, pain stops quickly but the infection remains. Without a pain signal, your condition could be worsening without your knowledge.

Do I need the best dentist in Sherwood Park or just the best dentist near me?

You don’t need the best dental clinic to get treatment for your dental emergency. Things that you might have been concerned about before (like office ambiance, décor and distraction devices) will be of no concern to you when you are suffering from a dental emergency like an infection. Your focus will be on reducing pain as soon as possible. Search terms like “dentist near me” are very helpful at identifying what your options may be. Depending on the time and day, you may get more accurate results by searching terms like “dentist open evenings in Sherwood Park” or “dentist open weekends in Sherwood Park”.

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