Tooth Decay and Dental Infection
While many of us who have visited the dentist may have had a small cavity form once in a while, a small population of people sometimes have larger infections developing. Infections in the mouth are typically caused from either the teeth or the gums/periodontium. In this post, we will focus our discussion on tooth related infections.
Infections that originate from the tooth all begin with a cavity/decay or trauma to a tooth. When dental plaque accumulates on teeth, after not practicing adequate hygienic home care brushing/flossing, acidic substances are released from bacteria pathogens. This acidity causes a cavity to form. As this progression continues, the decay penetrates further into the tooth. Once the nerve in the middle of the tooth becomes involved, tooth pain and infections occur. Similar symptoms would occur if trauma to the teeth occurred which involved the nerves. Root canal therapy or tooth extraction would be the required treatment.
Below is a photograph of a 7 year old boy’s dental infection caused from a very large tooth cavity. A noticeably sized swelling is present with this infection. The tooth had to be extracted along with a dose of antibiotic medication.
Dentistry has advanced exponentially in the past fifty years, and continues to do so. New treatment modalities and more predictive care is currently being offered. However, despite all of our efforts, there is still a long way to go to ensure that proper care and preventative measure are in place for everyone. Even in Canada, there are many communities, even within large metropolitan cities, that do not have access to adequate dental care. This is due to multifactorial causes including financial, educational, and proximity reasons.
Prevention and early detection are the ideal methodology to prevent dental infections. Regular check-ups are imperative to ensure a healthy oral cavity. Six month dental checkups and cleanings are recommended, with x-rays/radiographs taken in regular increments. X-rays can detect decay forming much earlier than any symptoms begin. Although dentists can spot concerns, much of the regular maintenance is done by the patients themselves. Brushing twice a day along with daily flossing prevents plaque from lingering on tooth surfaces. Removal of plaque prevents decay from starting. Diet should limit food and drinks high in sugar and acidic content.