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Oral Infections: Don’t Delay Treatment

When it comes to oral surgery for oral- and tooth-related issues, you might need to be treated for impacted, infected or abscessed teeth.

You might need a root canal treatment or one or more tooth extractions to get rid of the infection. When an infection is present, you’ll often experience pain and inflammation that can’t (and shouldn’t) be ignored.

The Problem with Bacteria

Your mouth hosts more than six billion bacteria, including 700 different species. While some promote health, others cause disease. A problem arises when your immune system is compromised. This can happen from medical illness (diabetes) or after a surgical procedure when your immune system is already taxed.

For example, you might have an infection after surgery if you notice that the site is bleeding for 24 or more hours after the procedure. Typically, post-surgery bleeding is normal for the first few hours afterward, but then it should stop. The issue with oral infections is they can be serious if they go untreated.

Not only can they spread from your soft oral tissues into the bone but they can also travel into the bloodstream, resulting in sepsis, which can be deadly. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), every year over 1.7 million people develop sepsis and up to 270,000 die from sepsis every year. So, what should you be on the lookout for when it comes to an infection?

Symptoms of Oral Infection

  • Severe pain that doesn’t go away with pain medication
  • Lingering low-grade fever that doesn’t go away or gets worse 
  • Swelling in your gums, jaw, neck or face that worsens
  • Oozing discharge, such as pus
  • Fever
  • Teeth sensitivity
  • Bad breath

While oral bacteria is normal, if it gets into surgical areas, it can cause problems. You will need to use sterile gauze pads only and gargle with warm saltwater and/or other prescribed antibacterial rinses.

When it comes to your mouth, teeth and gums, an infection is often treated with antibiotics. An abscess will need to be drained before a root canal or other surgical treatment can be done.

Treating Infection

Many types of oral health infections that arise because of a decayed or damaged tooth or gum disease require antibiotics to clear up the infection. Should you need a dental procedure, like a tooth extraction, your dental professional will also treat the infection before performing the procedure.

That’s because an infection that results in an abscess needs to be drained prior to performing any dental procedures, even a root canal. When treating infections and abscesses, the most common antibiotics used are Amoxicillin, Penicillin, Azithromycin, Cefoxitin or Metronidazole, considering any allergic reactions you may have had in the past.

Preventing Infection

One of the ways we can prevent infection is by starting you on antibiotics right after your surgery, but this is most often done for those who have a compromised immune system, such as those with diabetes.

If your health is optimal, you should be fine without taking antibiotics as a precautionary measure. But if you do find yourself with an abscess after your surgery, report it to our office as soon as possible. Getting an abscess treated right away rather than putting it off means you’ll feel better sooner, and it will go away faster.

Call for Help

If you have an oral abscess, follow up with our team and follow your post-surgery instructions carefully. This November, you might be busy with the upcoming holiday season, but if you notice any kind of oral infection, don’t delay being seen or seeking treatment. The best gift you can give yourself is a healthy smile!