A tooth infection, which is also referred to as a tooth abscess, usually results from an untreated cavity or injury to a tooth or the mouth. If the infected tooth is left untreated, the infection may cause serious complications that can become life-threatening.
People with an infected tooth may notice bleeding from their gums, a puslike discharge, excessive saliva, increased sensitivity when eating and drinking, pain, facial swelling and bad breath or unusual mouth odor.
An infected tooth may cause symptoms for a few days to several weeks or longer if it is left untreated or if the infection spreads to other parts of the body.
A physician, dentist or oral surgeon may diagnose an infected tooth by conducting an oral exam or taking X-rays of the teeth. A swab of the area may be tested for bacteria.
An infection in a tooth may cause people to lose that particular tooth, which can lead to problems with eating and talking and may cause the other teeth to move. Infections left untreated may spread into other teeth or the jaw bone and cause further damage.
People with a tooth infection who have other medical conditions such as heart disease, immune system disorders, diabetes or who are pregnant may be at a higher risk for developing complications.
Regular visits to a dentist, healthy eating habits and good oral hygiene can help prevent cavities and mouth disorders that can lead to tooth infections.