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What Happens When a Tooth Nerve Is Infected?

young man suffering from tooth pain

A toothache can be a persistent and excruciating pain that disrupts our daily lives. Often, the root cause of this comfort lies deep within the tooth, where the nerve is located. Nestled within the core of our teeth, bundles of nerves are responsible for transmitting sensory signals and maintaining dental function and health. When a tooth nerve is infected, you may experience extreme sensitivity and pain in the affected area. 

Most commonly, these infections occur due to deep tooth decay. Initially, tooth decay only affects the outermost layers, such as the enamel and dentin. However, as the decay progresses through the layers, the tooth nerve may be exposed to harmful bacteria, which can cause a tooth nerve infection. Other causes may include a cracked tooth, chipped tooth, or facial trauma. At Union City Oral Surgery Group, we will work with you to determine the cause of the infection and start treatment to relieve you of symptoms as soon as possible. 

What Is a Tooth Nerve? 

Tooth nerves are found deep within the tooth, beneath the hard outer enamel and the dentin layer. They are delicate, thread-like structures composed of nerve tissue, blood vessels, and connective tissues. The primary function of tooth nerves is to provide sensory input to the tooth. As such, they play a vital role in maintaining tooth health. Nerves serve as early warning systems, alerting you to potential problems within your teeth. For example, when tooth decay progresses and reaches the nerve, it can trigger pain, indicating the need for dental attention. 

Tooth nerve infections typically arise from various underlying causes, which include the following: 

  • Deep cavities: One of the most common causes of tooth nerve infections is untreated dental cavities. When a cavity progresses through the outer enamel and inner dentin, it can eventually reach the tooth’s nerve. Once the bacteria breaches this protective barrier, infection can set in. 
  • Dental trauma: Accidents and injuries can also lead to nerve infections. A forceful impact, such as a sports injury or fall, may damage the tooth’s structure, allowing bacteria to under and infect the nerve. 
  • Gum disease: Advanced gum disease contributes to tooth nerve infections. As gum disease progresses, it leads to the formation of pockets around the tooth roots, providing a pathway for bacteria to reach the nerves. 
  • Cracked or fractured teeth: Teeth that have cracks or fractures are susceptible to tooth nerve infections. These cracks can expose the nerves to harmful bacteria, leading to infection and inflammation. 

If you are suffering a tooth nerve infection due to one or more of these causes, contact the oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Union City Oral Surgery Group to help treat the source of the infection and help you reduce the risk of future infections. 

5 Symptoms to Watch Out For When a Tooth Nerve Is Infected 

Identifying the signs and symptoms of a tooth nerve infection is essential for timely intervention and preventing the infection from progressing to more severe stages. Watch out for the following symptoms: 

  • Severe toothache: Pain can be constant or intermittent, sharp or throbbing. It is often exacerbated by eating or drinking, especially hot or cold items. 
  • Increased sensitivity: Dental nerve infections can cause heightened sensitivity to temperature changes. You may find that certain foods trigger discomfort in the affected tooth.
  • Swelling and redness: In some cases, you may notice swelling and redness around the affected tooth and in the surrounding gums.
  • Bad taste or odor: An unpleasant taste or odor in your mouth, often accompanied by discharge, indicates the presence of an abscess, which is a more advanced stage of infection.  
  • Fever: A tooth nerve infection, particularly when it progresses to an abscess, may lead to a fever. This is a sign that the infection is spreading and requires immediate attention. 

Regardless of the level of discomfort, seeking prompt dental care is essential when symptoms manifest. Treatment options will vary based on the severity of the nerve infection and the extent of the damage to the tooth.  

Contact Union City Oral Surgery Group If You Are Suffering a Tooth Nerve Infection 

A tooth nerve infection, if left unchecked, can result in pain, complications, and even the loss of a tooth. The oral and maxillofacial surgeons at Union City Oral Surgery Group will provide timely diagnosis and appropriate treatment to help preserve your oral health and comfort. 

Schedule an appointment today by calling (201) 601-9262 or filling out a contact form.