A broken tooth is the result of clenching, chewing on hard things, or a blunt trauma to the face. Once a tooth is broken or cracked, it is very hard to replace. This makes the pulp within the tooth vulnerable to bacterial attack. When bacteria can cause an infection within the center of the tooth, it leads to an infection. The infection is also known as tooth abscess or dental abscess.
What is Tooth Infection?
An infection caused by a broken tooth causes pus formation is called a dental abscess. This abscess occurs due to bacterial infection. There are two types of tooth abscess: periapical abscess and periodontal abscess. Periapical abscess begins in the center of the tooth, that is, dental pulp. This complication arises due to tooth decay. The protective layers of the tooth are broken down and the bacteria is able to reach the dental pulp. Periodontal abscess occurs between the gum and tooth.
It occurs as a complication of tooth decay. This occurs due to trauma to the tooth that causes it to break or get chipped. Thus, allowing the bacteria to reach the dental pulp. Thus, the infection gradually spreads from the root of the tooth to the gums and supporting tooth bones. The infection leads to pus formation that contain dead tissues, bacterial cells as well as white blood cells. This causes swelling and inflammation within the root. When the tooth of the pulp dies, it leads to formation of tooth abscess.
One may experience few or most of the symptoms listed below:
- Severe toothache depending on the depth of the infection
- Swelling of the gums
- Swelling of the face
- Area around the infected tooth becomes red and inflamed
- Infected tooth is tender to touch, and may become loose
- High fever
- Jaw muscle spasms (rare cases)
- Sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures
- Pain when chewing or biting
- Foul taste in mouth
- Bad breath
One may feel the pain decrease considerably after the abscess ruptures. However, one will still require dental treatment for the infection. If the infection spreads, it can lead to sepsis. This is a life-threatening situation, and one may have to be hospitalized. The dentist will first drain the abscess by drilling a small hole in the broken tooth. This will allow the pus to escape from within the tooth.
He may prescribe an antibiotic to prevent the spread of the abscess and infection. Painkillers will provide some relief from the pain. In case of periapical abscess, one maybe advised root canal treatment. A hole is drilled in the dead tooth and the pus is drained. The hole is filled with a filling to prevent the spread of infection. If the infected broken tooth cannot be saved, the dentist will have no choice but to pull out the tooth.
Broken tooth abscess prognosis is usually good. Once the pus is drained, the tooth can be saved, especially if it is not badly broken. When left untreated, the infection may spread to the sinus tract, to the facial skin or mouth. It may lead to complications like osteomyelitis (infection of nearby bone), sinusitis (spread on infection to nearby sinus tract), dental cyst or cavernous sinus thrombosis (infection of a blood vessel in the brain). So, basically one needs to seek treatment and it should not be taken lightly. Treatment helps to get rid of the infection. At the most, you may lose a tooth, but it will make a huge difference on your health. Maintain proper dental hygiene, as it will prevent spread of infection and keep your teeth healthy and strong.