“Could this tooth infection have been prevented?” This was the question running through my mind when my team and I were tasked at 11:46pm to attend to one shoe cobbler at the emergency unit. He was triaged on account of an untreated tooth infection which had spread across his neck to his chest. Could he have perished? Certainly! Tooth infections can kill without proper and immediate intervention. Many of such cases are due to patients’ negligence. Regardless, here are seven tell-tale signs that you may be living with a tooth infection:
- Pain and sensitivity:
Known to be the hardest substance in the human body, the tooth enamel plays an important role in the mouth by protecting the inner environment of the tooth from saliva, germs, hot fluids and cold fluids. The inner environment contains nerves and blood vessels that nourish and give sensation to the tooth. If this protective layer (tooth enamel) is breached due to a decay or a fracture, bacteria is able to escape into the inner environment, resulting in pain and sensitivity.
When a long-standing toothache suddenly goes unnoticed, one should indeed be worried. Sooner or later, a tiny pimple-like swelling will appear on the gum. This often exudes a thick yellowish creamy fluid called pus.
The halitosis associated with an untreated tooth infection usually emanates from the pus of the gum swelling. This tends to be quite offensive and may even affect a person’s self-esteem.
Facial or jaw swelling:
One aspect of the face may look bigger relative to the contralateral side. Many individuals in the rural areas succumb to applying herbal concoctions to the swelling to ameliorate the infection but this is to no avail.
Difficulty opening the mouth:
An attempt to open the mouth widely would cause severe pain. This happens because pus from the tooth infection gets trapped in between the muscles of the jaw.
High fever and chills
An elevation in your body temperature is a clear indication that the tooth infection has become a widespread infection in the body. Consequently, affected persons are admitted at the emergency unit, put on antibiotic infusions and monitored closely.
A greyish appearance on one particular tooth is a sign of a “non-vital” or dead tooth. This results from trauma sustained on a tooth during childhood and if left untreated, discolors further as one ages.
It’s of no surprise that the average Ghanaian populace would visit the dentist only when they are in pain. Nevertheless, dental problems can go unnoticed and before you realize it, the problem would have developed into a full blown infection. Let us endeavor to visit the dentist regularly, brush twice daily for two minutes with a fluoride-containing toothpaste, reduce snacking in between meals, put an end to chewing ice and avoid opening bottles with the teeth. Teeth are in vogue so take care of them!