How to Control and Prevent Tooth Infection

This tooth decay occurs when disease causing bacteria produce an acid which removes the top most layer of the tooth surface, the enamel. This infection can go deeper in to the pulp chamber and results in tooth loss or it may even cause infections to wisdom tooth.

Tooth infection can be easily prevented by brushing the teeth properly and flossing regularly, and by consulting a dentist or dental professional, also by avoiding taking foods that are very high in sugar

Tooth infection can cause the bacteria in the mouth to enter the blood circulation, into the bloodstream to infect the heart valve, causing bacterial endocarditic, and it mostly occurs in people who had rheumatic heart disease, when they were young.

This condition affects and weakens the heart valves, making them susceptible to infection. And those who have artificial heart valves or pacemakers are even more prone to infection originating from tooth decay or infection in the mouth.

Causes of Tooth Infection

A tooth infection usually starts from a normal tooth decay or cavity, and as the cavity deepens the bacteria enters the pulp tissue causing infection within the tooth. These bacteria that have entered the pulp chamber cause destruction of blood vessels and nerve tissue within the pulp; it causes liquefaction of the dead tissue.

This mixture of living bacteria and rotten tissue, leaks out of the end of the tooth. The dead tissue irritates the surrounding alveolar bone and the supporting structures, making the tooth mobile. Fortunately, with a healthy immune system, the body fights back. However, if the infection is long term or chronic then the symptoms gradually appear.

Tooth decay is caused by bacteria, when it comes in contact with food particles on the tooth surface. Plaque, a transparent layer formed on the tooth few hours after brushing, contains disease causing bacteria which feeds on the food you eat with high sugar content which in turn creates acid that destroy the teeth.

Few minutes after eating this acid will start attacking the teeth and over a period of time acid will completely destroy the tooth enamel, resulting in tooth decay. Any dental infection can cause serious problems and should be addressed as soon as possible.

Types of Tooth Infections

A tooth infection can be very painful. And there are several types of dental infections depending upon the area of invasion.

The first type is an infection inside your tooth, in the living pulp tissue. This comes from tooth decay or severe irritation resulting from chronic infection. Inside your tooth, the natural defense mechanism breaks down because the blood vessel which transports antibodies and white blood cells gets destroyed.

Therefore, when your tooth becomes infected, it will not recover, and the pulp tissue will die. The treatment for this condition is a root canal treatment. With a root canal treatment, the soft tissue inside your tooth is removed and replaced with a sealant material that keeps infection from seeping back into the tooth.

There is a second type of tooth infection which occurs in the bone surrounding the tooth. A tooth abscess may or may not be painful; it is formed near the root of the tooth. When bacteria are in the bone, your body can fight them with antibodies and white blood cells.

The problem is that there is a constant supply of new bacteria to the region from the dead tissue inside your tooth. Your body may or may not be successful in walling off the infected area, so an abscess can go on for years without hurting. But the risk of damage is great. The abscess can grow and spread to surrounding roots of other teeth, and it can even cause the root of your tooth to be gradually dissolved. Treatment, again, would be a root canal procedure, followed by deep gingival curettage or abscess drainage.

A subdivision of this type would be a wisdom tooth infection, which occurs in the surrounding gum and is treated with a tooth extraction.

Click NEXT below to read more about signs and symptoms of tooth infection.

  • Rachel

    So these are the causes and types of tooth decay…People will now realize the importance of teeth decay..

  • Dr. Pawan Dagar

    Dear Damain,

    I’m not a regular visitor of this site, so not able to reply you promptly.
    Regarding your problem, Yes ! mostly it seems to be a perfect case of root canal treatment. Basically a tooth changes colour from its original to greyish when it’s blood supply is dead. May I know something more about your problem if it still there viz. is there pain on pressure or relief in pain on clenching teeth and on releasing the pressure? Secondly, are there any black spots like caries or cavity in your tooth. Is there any sensitivity to hot and cold or to sweets ?

    Extraction is always an easy and open option and there can be good possibilities to go for extraction once the swelling subsides by adequate use of antibiotics.
    Saving a tooth is always considered as better option than extraction but still ultimate decision depends on you value to oral health and your budget of course :) !!

    Please don’t hesitate to enquire any further …


    Dr. Pawan Dagar
    B.D.S (India)
    Masters cont. Adelaide.

  • michele

    this was a good overview re infection. It would help enormously to provide a link to print it without ads so it doesn’t take up 8 pages.


    Thank you, Michele, we added options to print articles. Please enjoy!

  • Anita

    Hi,I have a white type of pus coming from a broken tooth ,on the top right side back. It’s the very back tooth. I tried to put a string around it to pull it out,but there’s not enough of the tooth left to get a good grip.I’ve been getting a bad taste in my mouth,headachs,and seem to becoming very moody. Any thoughts on this matter will be a great help. Thank You, Anita

  • anita gerg

    I just had a tooth pulled couple days ago.I had root canal done in that tooth four years ago, but Dr. couldn’t get the whole tooth out he said that tooth is really strong.Now I still have root left in. Is that possible? Since then I have weird taste in my mouth.

  • maria

    can white blood cells increase a bit from tooth infection

  • Jessica

    Hi i have a issue.. i am 3 months pregnant and have had a root canal done and filled about 7 years ago. well the filling came out and has been that way for about 4 years i havent been back to the dentist yet but recently had severe pain in my tooth and now there is a huuge swelling under the tooth. no dentist will touch me because im pregnant. there is nothing i can do but im worried that the infection will go to my blood stream and hurt my baby.. does anyone have any ideas.. i know the tooth needs to come out and im fine with that because its a lower back tooth next to one of my wisdom teeth. i cant take pain medication because of the pregnancy and im allergic to pennicillian.. im at a loss.. any help would be greatly appriciated.. thanks guys

  • Dr. Chetan


    The swelling under the tooth is probably due to the infection in the open canal, which went apically and led to pus formation. Does any pus drain out from the gum area anytime? If not, then visit a dentist to just get it checked first. As its the 2nd trimester of your pregnancy, this is the only ideal time period when any minimal drug therapy can be given to you, or minor procedures can be carried out if they prove risky for future.
    I can’t tell if the infection would spread to the deeper tissues or through blood, until the diagnosis is done on the chair. The tooth removal can’t certainly be done as you are pregnant, but there are ways to prevent the spread of infection. Penicillin is not the only drug that fights infections, so paying a visit to the dentist would be a correct decision, as other minor dose drugs can be prescribed depending on your pregnancy period.

  • Jill

    Hi Jessica,

    I hope that you have gone to the dentist by now. I was in the exact same situation as you were in, however I was in my second trimester – I am also allergic to ALL penicillins. It was ok to pull the tooth in the second trimester and they prescribed my Clindamyacin as an antibiotic option. Never put off something like this due to pregnancy as the complications of letting the issue go can be far greater in the end.

  • http://None Flo McLaughlin

    Even though I go to the dentist regularly, I recently had an infected molar (which had had a root canal and crown many years ago). In November I told the dentist that my jaw was swollen. He checked and said he didn’t see anything. In February I returned because a pus-like substance was oozing up along the gumline. He gave me a “medicine pack” and said if it didn’t clear up, I would need an extraction.

    It didn’t clear up and I went to an oral surgeon for an extraction. He said that I would need an implant, costing $2500.00 for the extraction and implant. He put a bone growth material where the tooth had been extracted.

    After many months of checking, he now said that I needed additional bone material for another $725.00 and to come back in three months to see how the tooth is coming.

    Now when the implant is finished, I need to go back to my regular dentist for a crown, costing another $1000.00.

    My question is How did this happen when I see the dentist regularly, brush and floss routinely? By the way, I do not have dental insurance and pay when service is rendered.

    Additionally, why was the dentist unable to detect the infection even after I told him that my jaw was swollen.
    There was never any pain connected with this problem.