What Are the Symptoms of Tooth Infection Spreading to Body?

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Too many people ignore symptoms of tooth infection because they assume it’s no big deal and the toothache will ease on its own. But unfortunately, many don’t realize that something as small as a toothache could soon become something as significant as a hospital visit. In most cases, aches and pains in the mouth are caused by nasty tooth and dental infections that can be categorized as minor inconveniences and fixed by a quick trip to the dentist for some antibiotics. However, sometimes people can experience some symptoms of tooth infection spreading to body.

In rare cases, if your sore tooth is not treated, it could become infected and quickly spread to other parts of your body. Leaving a sore tooth untreated could lead to serious (or even life-threatening) complications.

It’s crucial to seek medical attention at the first sign of feeling unwell due to a toothache. Then, to prevent the infection from spreading further, you should know what sort of tooth infection symptoms to look for and what steps to take to cure the said infection.

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Symptoms of Tooth Infection Spreading To Body

A tooth infection, alternatively known as a dental abscess, is when a pus pocket forms due to bacterial infection. These abscesses can occur in two areas of the tooth: the root (a periapical abscess) and the gums beside the root (a periodontal abscess).

Signs of an abscess in the mouth are:

  • Severe and throbbing tooth pain, often spreading down the neck and ear.
  • Sudden sensitivity to hot or cold food/drinks.
  • Ruptured pockets of pus near the infected area caused a foul or salty taste.
  • Difficulty chewing or biting.
  • Pain when lying down.
  • Swelling in the face, jaw, neck, or lymph nodes
  • Difficulty breathing/intense breathing pattern
  • Increased heart rate
  • Fever
  • Bad breath
  • Dry mouth

Dentists will treat all types of tooth conditions by draining the infected area and prescribing antibiotics.

When to Seek Treatment for a Tooth Infection

An abscessed tooth can start mild and quickly escalate to a significant issue. Once a tooth infection spreads throughout the body, the immune system could become triggered and send the body into septic shock, a life-threatening condition that causes low blood pressure.

Seek dental care if there are any signs of an abscess of the tooth or if the infection grows, and call a doctor if a fever is present, especially when the fever reaches over 103 degrees.

If the fever is accompanied by any or all of the following symptoms, medical treatment is required:

  • Chest pain.
  • Struggling to breathe.
  • Confusion and dizziness.
  • Seizures.
  • Pain in tongue or mouth.
  • Dark urine.
  • Double vision or vision loss.
  • Burning & itchy skin.
  • Vomiting and diarrhea.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Pain while urinating.
  • Intense shivering.
  • Increased heartbeat rate.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • General ill health.

Can a Tooth Infection Spread?

To answer a long answer briefly: Absolutely!

Infected teeth left untreated can quickly spread to the body, anywhere from the neck to the heart.

Tooth abscess stages happen quickly and often unexpectedly. When a tooth abscess ruptures, a foul taste fills the mouth – this could relieve a fair amount of pain, but it is usually a sign that the infection has begun to spread. An abscess won’t always rupture, but medical attention should still be sought when pus is present.

Symptoms of Tooth Infection Spreading to Body


A high body temperature is the body’s first defense against infection and is one of the first significant symptoms to look out for if there is a suspected infection. The body is attempting to fight off and kill whatever sickness is plaguing it, but a fever is not necessarily a sign of good health.

If the fever is persistent and does not break on its own, it could signify that sepsis is beginning, and you should seek immediate medical attention. A high fever is measured as such:

  • Adults: 103 °F or higher.
  • Children: 102.2 °F or higher.
  • Infants 3+ months: 102 °F or higher.
  • Infants younger than three months: 100.4 °F or higher.

Swollen Face/Neck/Jaw

Swelling is a common symptom regarding dental abscesses and tooth decay – getting treatment from a dentist for the infection will usually cure the swelling.

However, persistent swelling could lead to difficulty breathing and closed-off airways, a dangerous complication of an untreated infection.

Increased Breathing Rate

Untreated infections can spread anywhere, and the heart is not exempt from this complication.

If the heart is beating far faster than usual and panting is the only way to get a steady airflow, sepsis may be setting in, and immediate medical care is needed.

Dehydration and Stomach Issues

The second stage of sepsis often brings symptoms like dehydration and stomach pain. Urination will become infrequent, and urine will usually be a dark and unhealthy color.

This may be accompanied by nausea, diarrhea, and vomiting, which will speed up symptoms of dehydration and increase the risk for more life-threatening complications.

General Illness

Whether any or all of the previous symptoms are present, a persistent toothache could morph into a general feeling of ill health that could seriously complicate daily life. A toothache becomes a headache, which travels into the ear and down the neck. Fatigue sets in, and dizziness could affect the inner ear.

Though it may just feel like the beginnings of a cold, these symptoms could derive directly from the infected area of the tooth. Therefore, no matter the severity of symptoms, it is crucial to schedule a dentist appointment as soon as tooth pain impacts daily life.

Types of Treatment

Dental treatment can seem daunting and often quite frightening. Still, it is of the utmost importance that medical care is sought to prevent the infection from spreading further into the body and causing potentially life-threatening complications.

There are various treatment options to help kill an infection that any dentist would be happy to explain and perform. However, the dentist must make the patient feel as comfortable as possible regarding a potentially frightening procedure or dental work. This means seeking an open and communicative dental healthcare provider is essential to excellent dental health.

Root Canal

Root canal treatment is performed when the dentist believes the infected tooth can be saved rather than fully extracted.

A root canal is meant to kill bacteria from the infected area, prevent future infections, and save the infected tooth. When undergoing this procedure, the dentist will remove the infected pus or pulp from the tooth, disinfect, clean, refill, and seal.

Under the white enamel of the tooth is where the pulp of the tooth is hidden. This soft tissue contains all the nerves and connective tissues of the tooth, which help with root growth. Therefore, there is no need to be worried about the extraction of infected pulp, as once the tooth is fully grown, it no longer needs to be nourished by the pulp. Instead, the tooth is sustained by the healthy tissue surrounding it.

This procedure has come a long way – once thought to be incredibly invasive and painful, the modern-day treatment for an infection of the tooth is as standard as a routine filling. Moreover, it can be completed in as little as one or two appointments, meaning a virtually pain-free life is just around the corner, and all teeth will remain safe and intact within the jaw.

Dental Abscess Draining

An abscess incision and drainage procedure combat a highly aggressive infection. This is a standard method to fight off most infections, as disinfecting and cleaning out the pus from the infected area is critical in curing and preventing future infections.

To begin the drainage process, the dentist will numb the infected area with a local anesthetic and then carefully cut into the infected area of the gum or drill into the infected area of the tooth with specialized tools.

Once the abscess is opened and the infected area is located, the infected material will be removed, and your dentist will drain the collected pus. The area will then be flushed with a saline (salt water) solution to disinfect and clean the area and remove any extra bacteria or materials that have been missed in the beginning stages of cleaning.

Once all the infected material and pus have been removed, the infected area of the tooth will be filled, and the gums will be sewn shut with a few small sutures. In some cases, a drain may be placed near the removed infection to remove any other materials and pus that the body may continue to produce. The drain will be removed in as little as three days, with the tooth then filled and the gums closed with some sutures.

Aftercare instructions given by the dental team must be followed down to the letter, as they are necessary for the healing process of the previously infected area. For example, their instructions may be to gargle with salt water several times daily and stick to a regimented brushing and flossing routine. Taking antibiotics as properly instructed will also be included in post-op instruction.


Not all tooth issues require antibiotics – the dentist can sometimes drain and clean the infected area, leaving the mouth pus and infection free. However, this is sometimes an unavoidable solution for those wondering how to get rid of a tooth infection without antibiotics.

Antibiotics remove bacterial infections by stopping or slowing the growth of germs. They are often used when the infection is too severe for simple cleaning and when the immune system is too weak to fight it.

Different types of antibiotics are used to combat various infections; the dentist will choose the best antibiotic possible to fight the exact symptoms of the infection they are dealing with.

Amoxicillin or cephalexin are commonly prescribed antibiotics to fight these types of infections. Penicillin is also often prescribed, but due to the high rate of allergies to this antibiotic, many dentists will go with a different treatment to prevent any further complications that an allergic reaction could cause.

Antibiotic treatment usually lasts between 1 and 2 weeks, depending on the severity of the infection. Depending on what antibiotic is prescribed, the dose may vary between 2 to 4 times daily.

It is essential to follow the care provider’s instructions regarding antibiotics exactly. Not taking or completing the recommended dose could result in further physical invasive treatment or surgery.

Sepsis Treatment

If the infection is not addressed, sepsis may develop within the body. Sepsis is the body’s extreme reaction to an untreated disease, triggering a chain reaction throughout the body that can lead to severe complications such as tissue damage, organ failure, and even death.

Though most people can recover from mild sepsis, the mortality rate once the body goes into septic shock is approximately 40%. Surviving severe sepsis can also put one more at risk for future reinfection, meaning that one should seek out a healthcare professional as soon as symptoms of sepsis begin to arise.

Healthcare professionals can quickly diagnose sepsis by searching for the following symptoms:

  • Fever.
  • Low blood pressure.
  • Fast heartbeat.
  • Breathing difficulty

When sepsis is present, it requires hospitalization and antibiotic treatment through an IV rather than orally. Sepsis is usually treated by maintaining blood flow to the organs and with an antibiotic that covers an extensive range of bacteria, as it can often take a while to determine the exact bacteria that is the cause of a sepsis infection. A more tailored antibiotic treatment may be used once the strain of bacteria causing the sepsis is discovered.

In extreme cases, sepsis may require dialysis to support failing organs and a surgical operation to remove the source of infection, such as a collection of pus, dead tissue, and infected tissue. Sepsis is treatable when discovered quickly, and recovery can have little to no lasting issues so long as it is treated promptly. There is no shame in calling 911 when health is involved and sepsis is too severe to ignore.


Tooth infections can be fatal. The question is, how long until this type of infection can kill you? Knowing what signs and symptoms of tooth infection spreading to body is essential. However, working to prevent tooth infections is just as necessary, if not more. In addition, maintaining good oral health habits will help keep the mouth clean and healthy between dental check-ups and decrease the risk of unexpected complications.

Good dental habits to practice include the following:

  • Brushing twice a day.
  • Flossing after each meal.
  • Visit the dentist every six months.
  • Change of toothbrush every two to four months.
  • Use an electric toothbrush.
  • Use mouthwash to kill any bacteria left over after brushing and flossing.
  • Avoid sugar and an excess of harmful foods.

How DrAlexa Can Help

Without proper care and prevention, tooth infections can lead to severe complications like tooth extraction, dental implants, and even life-threatening conditions like sepsis.

DrAlexa is here to help. At DrAlexa, doctors are ready and waiting to provide the medical support necessary to keep their patients happy and healthy. With doctor consultations starting as low as $19 per session, patients can find the help they need before their issues grow to hospitalization-level matters.

By offering high-quality service that you can access from the comfort of your home, DrAlexa is providing a transformative healthcare experience designed just for you. Contact DrAlexa today.

The content on Doctor Alexa’s blog is reviewed by Advanced practice registered nurses or pharmacist and is intended for educational purposes only. This information should not be relied upon as professional medical counsel. Be sure to always consult with your physician about the dangers and benefits of any medication, treatment or procedure.

You shouldn’t wait to see the doctor for simple health needs.