Is a Tooth Infection Considered an Emergency?

Key Takeaways:
  • Tooth infections can become emergencies and require immediate attention to prevent further complications.
  • Tooth infections are bacterial infections that affect the inside of a tooth, the root, or the surrounding gums and bone.
  • Tooth and jawbone infections can be caused by poor oral hygiene, chipped teeth, untreated tooth decay, gum disease, and weakened immune systems.
  • Preventing tooth and jawbone infections involves good oral hygiene practices and regular dental checkups.
  • Seeking emergency dental treatment for tooth and jawbone infections is crucial to prevent future complications. It is advisable to register with an emergency dental clinic beforehand to prevent any unexpected delays in times of emergency.

Not all tooth infections are considered an emergency. Dental emergencies require immediate dental treatment to prevent further damage to the teeth, gums, or jaw. Several factors result in emergencies such as trauma, infection, and other causes, however not all infections are emergencies. 

If you suspect an infection that requires emergency treatment, you have to see an emergency dentist as soon as possible.

Every form of tooth infection ought to be checked and treated because of the associated and underlying risks. This article answers the question, “is a tooth infection considered an emergency in Brisbane?”

Is a Tooth Infection Considered an Emergency?

Understanding Tooth and Jawbone Infections 

Bacteria cause oral infections, and they spread at the speed of light. Without intervention, they can spread throughout the oral cavity. These infections can be either tooth or jawbone infections. 

What is a Tooth Infection? 

A tooth infection is also called a dental abscess. It is a bacterial infection that affects the inside of a tooth, the root, or the surrounding gums and bone. A tooth infection develops when bacteria enter the tooth through a cavity, crack, or other openings.

A prolonged tooth infection can spread and become an emergency case. You should see a dentist immediately if you suspect you have a tooth infection or experience severe pain.

Symptoms of a Tooth Infection 

Some of the signs of a dental infection include:

  • Sensitivity to hot or cold drinks and food
  • Pain when chewing or biting
  • Fever
  • Swelling and redness in the gum
  • Severe and throbbing toothache that can spread to the jawbone
  • A bad taste or odour in the mouth.

What is a Jawbone Infection? 

Jawbone infections are rare, but when they do occur, they need immediate attention. Jawbone infections affect the area surrounding the jaw.

Jawbone  infections can be classified into several types, including:

  1. Periapical abscess: This occurs when bacteria invade the pulp, causing an infection that spreads to the bone and tissues surrounding the tooth.
  2. Ludwig’s angina: This is a severe infection that affects the tissues of the floor of the mouth and can cause swelling and pain in the jaw and neck.
  3. Osteomyelitis: This is a bone infection that can occur in the jawbone, typically following a dental procedure or injury.
  4. Periodontal abscess: This is an infection that affects the gums and can spread to the jawbone if left untreated.

Symptoms of a Jawbone Infection 

The following are symptoms of jaw bone infection:

  • Fever
  • Redness
  • Pain
  • Swelling
  • Pus discharge
  • Difficulty in opening the mouth
  • Tenderness when touched
  • Fatigue
  • Sinus drainage

How Serious is a Jawbone Infection? 

A jawbone infection such as osteomyelitis of the jaw can be caused by bacteria or fungi, spreading within the jawbone.

In the jawbone, osteomyelitis can result from several factors, including tooth infections, gum disease, or dental surgery.

Jawbone infections, when left untreated, lead to inflammatory diseases and other health conditions. Other conditions are cancer, chronic fatigue, and Alzheimer’s disease. 

A jawbone infection can cause sepsis when it spreads to other parts of the body. It is important to seek medical attention if you suspect a jawbone infection, as urgent treatment can help prevent complications and improve outcomes.

Causes of Tooth and Jaw Bone Infections 

Tooth and jawbone infections can be caused by the following:

1. Bacterial Infections in the Mouth

Poor oral hygiene is one of the most common causes of tooth and jawbone infections. When you do not clean your mouth regularly, bacteria can build up, leading to tooth decay and gum disease. 

These conditions can eventually lead to an abscess.

Also, a weakened immune system can make it easier for bacteria to infect the tooth and surrounding tissues. People with conditions such as diabetes or HIV are more susceptible to dental abscesses.

2. Chipped Tooth and Infection 

Bacteria can seep into the broken tooth and spread to the pulp. The pulp contains nerves, blood vessels, and connective tissue. If it becomes exposed due to a chipped tooth, it can become infected by bacteria that can cause inflammation and severe tooth pain.

This means that a crack in your tooth can cause a dental infection. 

3. Hidden Jaw Infections (Dental Abscess)

A dental abscess is an infection that involves a pocket of pus that can form in the tooth, the gum tissue, or the jawbone itself. 

Bacterial infection, which can occur due to untreated tooth decay, a cracked tooth, or gum disease can cause tooth abscess.

When an abscess forms in the jaw, it is difficult to detect because it is hidden from view. However, it can still cause significant damage to the surrounding tooth and bone tissue if left untreated. 

The infection can spread through the bone and into nearby teeth, causing further decay and infection. In severe cases, it can even spread to other body parts, leading to serious health complications.

Some common symptoms of a hidden jaw infection include pain or swelling in the jaw or face, fever, and feeling unwell. An abscess may spread deeper and cause unbearable pain if neglected for a long time

4. Infection in the Jawbone from a Tooth 

This type of infection is known as osteomyelitis of the jaw, an inflammation of the bone and bone marrow within the jaw.

The infection can attack the jawbone, causing it to become inflamed, weakened, and more susceptible to further infection. 

Over time, this can lead to osteomyelitis development, which can cause severe dental pain, swelling, and other symptoms.

Alternatively, an infection in the jawbone itself can lead to a tooth infection. 

When the jawbone becomes infected, it can cause the teeth to become loose or shift out of place, creating spaces between the teeth. These spaces can then become breeding grounds for bacteria, leading to further infection of the tooth or gums.

Physical Dental Examination For Gum Infection Symptoms

Diagnosis and Treatment of Tooth and Jawbone Infections 

How is a Tooth Infection Diagnosed? 

A tooth infection is diagnosed using physical exams, imaging studies, and medical history. 

Physical Exam

Your dental provider can organise a physical exam of the affected teeth where they will look for signs and symptoms such as redness, swellings, and tenderness. 

X-rays and CT Scans

Dental x-rays can be done to identify an abscess or other signs of infection, such as bone loss or decay. The X-rays can also help determine the extent of the infection and identify any other dental issues that may be contributing factors. 

In some cases, a CT scan can be ordered to get a more detailed view of the affected area, particularly if the infection has spread to other parts of the mouth or face.

Pulp Testing 

If your dentist suspects that the pulp is infected, they may perform a pulp test to determine the extent of the damage and whether a root canal may be necessary.

How is a Jawbone Infection Diagnosed? 

Asides from a physical exam, your dental healthcare provider may provide one or more of these tests to diagnose a jawbone infection.

  • Complete blood counts (CBCs) in blood tests look for indicators of infection and inflammation: An examination of your blood culture checks for germs. Images of your bones, muscles, and tissues are produced by imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, CT scans, and Ultrasounds.
  • Bone scan: During an imaging scan, a bone scan employs a little amount of harmless, radioactive material to find infections or fractures.
  • Biopsy: Your healthcare professional carries out a needle biopsy to obtain samples of fluid, tissue, or bone to examine indications of infection.

What Antibiotics Treat Jawbone Infections? 

Antibiotics kill infection-carrying bacteria, therefore they are suitable in the fight against jawbone infections. The specific antibiotic used to treat a jawbone infection will depend on the type of bacteria causing the infection and the severity of the infection. 

Sometimes, a combination of antibiotics helps. Some of the antibiotics include; Penicillin, Clindamycine, Cephalexin, and Metronidazole, amongst others. 

Jawbone Infection Treatment Options 

Asides from antibiotics, your dental health care provider can also offer other treatment options for your jawbone infection. These other treatments include:

  • Oral antifungal medications
  • Needle aspiration to drain fluid from the abscess
  • Bone and spine surgery

When to Seek Emergency Dental Care

If you experience any indications that you may have an abscessed tooth, contact your dentist immediately. If you notice any of the above symptoms, do not hesitate to visit the emergency room of your nearest dental clinic. These signs may point to a deeper illness in your jaw, throat, or neck, or possibly in other parts of your body.

Preventing Tooth and Jawbone Infections 

Preventing tooth and jawbone infections involve good oral hygiene and regular dental checkups. 

Good Oral Hygiene Practices 

Take proper care of your teeth. Brush your teeth at least twice a day, and floss at least once a day. This helps to remove plaque and tartar that may house bacteria leading to infections. 

Regular Dental Check-ups 

Regular dental checkups can help detect and treat dental problems before they turn into infections.

Tips for preventing tooth and jawbone infections

  • Brush your teeth with fluoride toothpaste at least twice a day.
  • Eat healthy diets that promote oral health.
  • Avoid smoking and using tobacco products
  • Use an antiseptic mouthwash to help kill bacteria that may cause tooth decay and gum disease
  • Treat dental problems urgently

Note: Not all dental issues require emergency treatment. Most may need you to book an appointment before getting treatment. 

Book An Emergency Dentist

Seeking emergency dental treatment for tooth and jaw bone infections is crucial to prevent future complications. If you suspect that you have a tooth or jawbone infection, it is important to seek dental care as soon as possible.

It is always advisable to register with an emergency dental clinic beforehand. This will prevent any unexpected delays in times of emergency. Do not wait till you need urgent dental care before you visit an emergency dentist. If you cannot find an emergency dental clinic, you can go straight to the emergency department of a regular dental clinic. 

Contact My Emergency Dentist to get more information on our emergency services. The sooner you get urgent treatment the more likely you are to save your teeth. You can also book an appointment to register with us.

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