Bacterial or fungal infection may reach the jawbone through the blood stream or from a nearby tissue. People suffering from periodontitis or those who have had any trauma to their jawbone are highly susceptible to this infection. The condition could also be a result of a dental procedure wherein, the jawbone is left exposed.
What Infects the Jawbone?
# As already mentioned, untreated periodontitis may lead to a possible infection of the jawbone. Periodontitis is characterized by a case wherein, the gums are severely infected. The infection destroys the soft tissue and bone that support the teeth. When left untreated, the infection could reach the jawbone via the bloodstream.
#Dental procedures such as root canal, tooth extraction or wisdom teeth removal could also be one of the causes. Here, the bacteria can make its way into the jawbone via the surgical site. However, such cases are rare in occurrence, as dentists take adequate precautions to prevent any such infection during the procedure.
#Dental caries, a chip or even a small crack in a tooth can easily help bacteria to invade the inner part of the tooth, all the way down to the root thus, causing infection. Now this infection gives rise to swelling and inflammation, which in turn, results in the formation of pus. With time, the pus starts collecting into a dental abscess. Without any treatment, the infection from the abscess spreads to the jaw, and not to mention to other areas of the head or neck. If it is still ignored, then it may repercuss into a life-threatening condition called sepsis.
Common symptoms may include pain, swelling, tooth loss, jaw numbness, drainage from the gums, and exposed condition of the bones. Other symptoms are fever, feeling of discomfort, redness, feeling of warmth in the affected area, and nausea. Some people might only show symptoms such as fever and general tiredness, without any pain or swelling. And given such a few symptoms, most people do not get concerned enough to take a dental appointment. Diagnosis of an infection in a jawbone is done with the help of X-rays, blood tests, CT scan or an MRI.
Antibiotics are the first line of treatment for the infection that occurs in jawbone. There could occur cases where the condition may not respond to drugs. In such cases, surgery could be an option. It may include draining the infected area of any pus or any fluid that might have accumulated, or removing the diseased part or infected surrounding areas of the jawbone. The surgeon may also restore blood flow to the bone, and get rid of foreign objects such as surgical plates or screws which might have been a part of any previous surgery.
Preventing conditions such as infection of the jawbone is not a difficult chore. All you have to do is keep a check on the causes. As I mentioned, one of the causes is periodontitis. It can be easily averted by following a program of good dental hygiene which comprises brushing twice a day, daily flossing (even better is to floss after every meal), and most importantly, seeing your dentist every 6 to 12 months. If you are into smoking, then nothing would be better than shunning the habit. And in case you suffer a trauma to your mouth including your teeth, then see your dentist at the earliest.