Theriot Family Dental

How Serious Is an Infected Tooth?

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I had a molar break. It is not the wisdom tooth, but the one in front of it. I was short on money so put off going to the dentist. Plus, if I am being completely honest, then I will admit I’m not the best dental patient. This happened a week and a half ago. Then, I started having pain in my sinus area. Now the pain is in my temple as well as behind my ear and toward the front of my neck. I have been taking an old antibiotic I have sitting around, but they don’t seem to be helping. I’m in a lot of pain. Today, my sister told me that what I’m doing is dangerous, but she thinks everything I do is stupid, so I don’t know if I should be concerned or if my sister is just being my sister. Any insight you have would be appreciated. I’m hurting quite a bit.


Dear Stella,

Woman holding her jaw in pain

I am afraid that your sister is right. You are in a dangerous situation. Your molar is infected, and that infection is spreading. I would consider this a dental emergency. People still do die from tooth infections, even in the twenty first century. Your infection seems to be spreading in two directions which has me quite worried. The one by your temple could reach your brain. The one snaking around your throat could end up causing your throat to close up and restrict your breathing.

The antibiotics that you have will not really be a help to you. I don’t know how old they are, but it is never a good idea to use an old antibiotic on anything. In fact, all your antibiotics should be used until they are gone, so there should never be some left over. The bigger problem you have is that even if you had the correct antibiotic it would not “cure” your tooth infection. The best it will do is hold it at bay until the pills run out. Then the infection returns in full force.

The only way to truly deal with a tooth infection is to remove the infected pulp. There are two ways to do that. The first is to have a root canal treatment done. This has the benefit of saving the tooth. Your second option is to have the tooth extracted. You will need to replace it if that happens. Otherwise the other teeth will shift and tip into the empty space. This will throw off your bite and could lead to TMJ Disorder.

I know you are not fond of the dentist and have some dental anxiety. This is nothing to be embarrassed about. Many people have had poor experiences with a dentist in their younger years, which have soured them on going to the dentist. The good news is you can have a a pain-free and anxiety-free experience. I am going to recommend you see a sedation dentist. They can provide you with a medication that will completely relax you allow you to get your tooth taken care of in complete comfort.

This blog is brought to you by Lafayette, LA Dentist Dr. John Theriot.