Can A Bad Tooth Cause Ear Infection?

Can A Bad Tooth Cause Ear Infection?

Posted by: Dr Monica Amin

Poor oral hygiene can affect more than just your smile and aesthetics; it can also lead to painful dental infections. Not only this, long-standing dental conditions can travel to other organs of the body and cause serious, even life-threatening illnesses. This is because there is a direct connection between your oral health and overall physical wellbeing. This article explains why it is necessary to look after your dental hygiene to prevent dental infections and other complications and how your oral health affects your physical health. 

What Causes Tooth Infection?

When healthy, our teeth are covered by a tough, mineralised layer called the enamel, which protects the underlying softer layer of the tooth, the dentin and pulp. The innermost pulp layer of the tooth contains nerves and blood vessels that provide innervation and nourishment to our teeth.  

Things get complicated when one starts to ignore their oral hygiene routine. As a result, a fine layer of food and bacterial debris forms on the surface of the teeth. This layer, called the plaque, gradually hardens and becomes the dental calculus. Both the calculus and plaque offer an excellent breeding environment for harmful bacteria. These bacteria utilise the sugars from the plaque and calculus and release toxins that damage the enamel layer of the teeth – and expose the underlying dentin and pulp. 

At this point, you will only be sensitive to hot and cold foods. However, if this condition is not treated timely, bacteria penetrate the teeth and lead to an infection of the dental pulp. The only option  to save the affected tooth is to perform a root canal treatment procedure. You can know more about root canal treatments by visiting the website of the British Endodontic Society. 

Dental infections may also arise as a result of gum inflammation. The bacterial toxins damage the fibres that hold our teeth to the gums and jawbone. As a result, pockets are formed between the gums and the teeth,  which lead to further food impaction. Untreated gum inflammation may lead to widespread bone damage and the formation of dental abscesses. 

What Are The Symptoms Of Tooth Infection? 

You may only experience toothache and sensitivity in the early stages of a dental infection. However, it will go away if you take any pain medication.

If the underlying problem is not treated in a timely fashion, the infection can lead to the formation of a tooth abscess. According to the National Health Service, an abscess is a pus-filled cavity that forms around infected teeth, gums, or the bone that supports our teeth. Dental abscesses are not only painful, but they indicate a severe infection that should not be overlooked. According to the American Dental Association, some of the symptoms of a tooth infection include:

  • Swelling and redness of the face on the side of the affected tooth 
  • Severe, throbbing pain in the affected tooth 
  • The pain may also radiate towards the ears, jaws or neck on the same side
  • Tender and mobile teeth 
  • Shiny, red, and swollen gums 
  • Pus discharge from the affected tooth 
  • Bad breath or unpleasant taste in the mouth
  • Difficulty in chewing or opening mouth 

Toothache And A Pain In The Same Side-what Does It Mean? 

If you are experiencing a toothache that is radiating towards other teeth or the ears, neck and jaws of the same side, it could indicate an underlying dental abscess. If you feel that you have a tooth abscess, you should not take it lightly. This is because the infection from a dental abscess may travel to organs of the body and cause severe, even life-threatening systemic conditions. 

Symptoms Of Tooth Infection Spreading To Body?

If you are experiencing one or more following symptoms, it could indicate that a tooth infection is spreading to the other parts of the body:

  • High-grade fever
  • Body aches 
  • Difficulty in breathing 
  • Loss of concentration 
  • Elevated heart rate and blood pressure 
  • Pain in other body parts
  • Ear pain 
  • Jaw pain
gum disease and body health

How Long Can A Tooth Infection Go Untreated? 

A tooth infection should never be taken lightly. This is because infection of the teeth can spread to other body parts if it is not treated timely. While your body’s immunity may try to contain the infection, it may not be enough sometimes, necessitating the need for immediate dental treatment to prevent medical complications. Therefore, if you feel that you have a tooth infection, you should consult your dentist without delay as it may constitute a dental emergency. 

Can a Tooth Infection Cause Inner Ear Problems?

Symptoms of an underlying dental infection can also be felt in other organs in the head and neck region. For example, pain caused by tooth infection can also be felt in the ears. However, currently, there is no evidence that a tooth infection can spread to the inner ear. According to a research study, there was insufficient evidence to link dental infections with a risk of developing ear infections.  

The Link Between Oral Health And Heart Disease

According to the Oral Health Foundation, there is a direct link between oral health and o overall well-being. Research has shown the bacteria inside inflamed gums, and infected teeth can enter the bloodstream and initiate an inflammatory response within the blood vessels. This leads to the deposition of fat tissues inside the arteries, effectively reducing their diameter. Decreased diameter of the blood vessels results in high blood pressure and an increased risk of heart attack and strokes. Similarly, bacteria can also adhere to artificial heart valves and cause serious health problems. 

Healthy teeth and gums are essential for ensuring the optimal overall health and an active lifestyle. To ensure healthy gums and teeth, all you need is to brush and floss daily. More importantly, you should visit your dentist regularly for checkups so that underlying problems can be treated before they cause permanent damage.

If you are looking for a dental practice in Elizabeth Street, Victoria that takes care of your entire family’s dental needs, look no more. We offer high quality general and cosmetic dentistry services to our esteemed patients so they can enjoy a set of pearly white teeth and beautiful, healthy and lasting time. 

Book a free consultation appointment with us today, and let us take care of your oral health and smile. 

Dr Monica Amin
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