Dental Infection

What is a dental infection?

September 28, 2021

There are many types of dental infections, but the one we will discuss here is a tooth abscess.

A dental infection occurs when bacteria gets into the dental pulp. This is the innermost part of your tooth that contains blood vessels and nerves. Bacteria can get in through a crack or chip and infect all the way down to the root of your tooth. This bacteria will cause swelling and inflammation.

Common types of tooth abscesses include:

  • Periapical abscess—forms at the tip of your tooth’s root
  • Periodontal abscess—affects the bone next to your tooth

How can you avoid dental infections?

Taking care of your teeth can help you avoid dental infections. This includes:

  • Using drinking water with fluoride
  • Brushing your teeth at least twice a day with toothpaste that contains fluoride
  • Cleaning between your teeth daily with dental floss or an interdental cleaner
  • Replacing your toothbrush every three to four months or when the bristles become frayed
  • Eating healthy foods and limiting sugary food or snacks
  • Visiting your dentist regularly for cleanings and checkups
  • Using an antiseptic or fluoride mouth rinse

How do I know I have a tooth abscess?

You may experience some of the symptoms listed below:

  • Sharp, throbbing toothache that can radiate through your jaw
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold
  • Sensitivity to chewing or biting
  • Fever
  • Swelling in face or neck
  • Tender or swollen lymph nodes
  • Difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • Bad taste or odour

Do I need to see my doctor or dentist?

If you have any signs of a dental infection or tooth abscess you should see your dentist immediately.

If your symptoms include fever, swollen face, trouble swallowing, or trouble breathing you should go to an emergency room right away.

How can you treat a dental infection?

Your dentist will probably examine your tooth and may need an X-ray to confirm what is causing your symptoms.

Once they confirm a dental infection they will want to get rid of the infection as soon as possible. Some ways of getting rid of the infection include:

  • Draining the abscess: Your dentist will make a small cut to remove any pus and wash the area with salt water (saline).
  • Root canal: Your dentist will drill into the centre of your tooth to remove the infected tissue and drain the abscess. They will then fill the tooth. This can help save your tooth but still get rid of the infection.
  • Removing the tooth: If the tooth can’t be saved your dentist may remove it and then drain the abscess.
  • Antibiotics: Your dentist might recommend antibiotics if the infection appears to have spread or if your immune system is weakened.


Remember, each person is different and your dentist will help select a treatment that is best for you and your situation.

Can someone at Pulse On Call help me?

Of course! Schedule an online doctors appointment and one of our team members will be happy to help. Our licensed Canadian physicians can help diagnose and can also provide prescriptions online.

If a dentist or other specialist is required, our doctors will help find a nearby facility who can help.

The best part? You can do it from the comfort of your own home and it’s free if you have OHIP coverage!

*Please Note:

Please note that all information within this posting is up-to-date at the time of publication.