Bad tooth-what are the symptoms of an infection getting in the bloodstream?

I have a very bad tooth on the top right of my mouth that needs to be extracted which I have put off for over a year now. The tooth is broken to the gum and is rotted. I am fighting off a cold that I caught from my son and I am afraid that the infection from my tooth has gotten into my blood. I am having pain all down the right side of my neck and up into my head. I am really scared that it could be serious. I don’t have dental insurance but I need this tooth out now. Does anyone know what the symptoms would be if the infection has spread to my bloodstream and what I can do to prevent it from killing me before I can get this tooth extracted?

Thanks, Carol

Dear Carol,

An infected tooth with an abscess left untreated can drain into the nearby tissues of the infected area causing some facial swelling.  In some cases the lymph glands can swell and even make you feel like your experiencing a headache because pain can transfer from the infected area. Pain is fairly common on the side of the face where an infected tooth is located.

A severe tooth infection left untreated can lead to sepsis, in other words blood poisoning, which is an all over body inflammatory response due to an infection. Sepsis has been known to happen from an infected tooth however not too common. This is a serious condition which requires hospitalization and can be deadly. Some early signs of sepsis are flu like symptoms, dehydration, a racing heart rate, and shallow breathing however when it becomes severe one experiences difficulty swallowing, infrequent urination, and mood swings.

Due to the fact that this tooth has been left untreated along with the symptoms your experiencing we highly recommend you see a dentist who will most likely prescribe an antibiotic to decrease the infection. Ask the dental office about financial options they may offer and see if they are willing to work with you on making payments.

This post is sponsored by Cleveland Implant Dentist Hylan Dental Care

How long should I wait for an extraction to heal before having an implant?

What is the normal time to wait after a tooth with an infected root canal is extracted before the implant can be placed? It never felt right, and a year later the tooth had to be extracted, and they want to put in a dental implant. So in my mind this infection was probably developing the entire year. Now that an oral surgeon has removed the tooth what is my reassurance that there isn’t infection harboring in the bone? How much time should be given to new bone growth and how will the infection be diagnosed as no longer a problem before the implant is placed. I appreciate information that you can provide.
– Loretta

Loretta,
When a tooth becomes infected, the tissue inside it dies. Then, since there is a small opening in the tooth at the apex of the root, infected matter continues to spill out into the bone around the end of the tooth. Your body fights the infection in the bone, but there is no way to get antibodies or white blood cells into the tooth to actually eliminate the infection, because that tissue is dead and there are no longer any blood vessels in it.

When the tooth is extracted, two important things happen. First, the source of the infection is eliminated, enabling your body defenses to quickly wipe out the remnants of the infection in the bone. Second, the missing tooth leaves a wide drainage opening into the bone to the heart of the infection. Because of this, there is rarely any problem with residual infection after a simple extraction.

Now in the case of an infected and impacted wisdom tooth, the infection is not inside the tooth and spilling out into the bone, but is in the space between the tooth and the gum. Additionally, the surgery to remove an impacted wisdom tooth requires cutting into the tissue and the bone, which can allow the infection to spread into that surgical area. Then the wound is usually sutured closed. For these reasons, an infection after the removal of an impacted wisdom tooth is not rare, and many dentists routinely prescribe antibiotics during the healing period to help prevent infection.

This blog is sponsored by Cleveland implant dentist Dr. Brad Hylan.