Imagine this scenario: your tooth has been aching for a little while and seems to be getting worse, but you have been too busy or perhaps anxious about the dentist to make an appointment. You tell yourself you will get to it when you are able, because though inconvenient, you figure you can deal with the pain for a little while longer until it resolves itself or your schedule frees up.
While it may be tempting wait to schedule an appointment over something as seemingly simple as a toothache, you could actually be putting your health at great risk. Procrastinating a visit to the dentist early on could lead to an emergency dental visit down the road, and even pose a risk to the rest of your well-being. Read on to find out how an untreated toothache can threaten your overall health, and what you can do about it!
How Is A Toothache Dangerous?
Toothaches can be caused by something simple, like food stuck between your teeth, which might be easily resolve. However, they often occur when bacteria grows where there is damage to your tooth or gums from tooth decay, injury, or previous dental procedures. This growth that can lead to an infection which can worsen and spread throughout the body and may lead to:
- Increased heart rate
- Increased breathing rate or difficulty breathing
- Stomach pain
- Sepsis, as bacteria from the infection enters the bloodstream and weakens the immune system
- Ludwig’s Angina, which occurs when the infection spreads to the throat and chest region
If left untreated, infection in the blood stream can impact major organs and can even lead to death. With such serious consequences, it is important to call your dentist as soon as you notice your toothache to avoid more serious damage.
How Do I Know If It’s Infected?
Generally, tooth infections do not go away on their own or with time; instead, they will only grow worse. This is because unlike the rest of your body, your teeth don’t have the blood flow needed to rid the infection on their own. It is important to call your dentist as soon as you notice signs or symptoms like:
- Throbbing pain around the affected tooth
- Swollen, red, or bleeding gums
- A persistent bad taste in your mouth
- Persistent bad breath
- Discoloration of the affected tooth
- Tooth sensitivity to hot or cold foods and beverages
How Can I Avoid A Tooth Infection
As you can see, there are serious consequences that can develop if you leave a toothache untreated. Generally, toothaches or infections happen when bacteria grow in your teeth or gums, often as a result of poor dental hygiene. To maintain your health and avoid a tooth infection, it is important to care properly for your teeth. You can do this by:
- Brushing your teeth with fluoride toothpaste twice a day
- Floss daily
- Avoid high-sugar foods and beverages
- Eat more fruits and vegetables
- Avoid tobacco products
- Drink fluoridated water
- Visit your dentist regularly for checkups and cleanings
Practicing proper dental hygiene greatly reduces the chance of a tooth infection, but is not a foolproof guarantee. If you are experiencing a toothache, do not hesitate to reach out to your dentist to avoid the possibly dangerous repercussions of leaving it untreated.
About the Author
Dr. Dan Passidomo, DMD, received his doctorate from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry in 1993 and has been serving patients at his current practice in Centerville, Ohio since 2006. Dr. Passidomo is an active member of the community through the Centerville Optimist Club and the Lebanon Area Chamber of Commerce, and spends time each February visiting local grade schools to teach children the importance of good oral hygiene. If you have a toothache, don’t hesitate to schedule an appointment by contacting his office through the website, or call (937) 709-4038.