Q:

Can an infected tooth make you sick?

A:

Quick Answer

An infected tooth can cause certain systemic diseases if not properly treated, according to the National Center for Biotechnology Information. Conditions that may be related to tooth or other oral infections include cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus, bacterial pneumonia and low birth weight.

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An infected tooth, also known as an abscess, is caused by a bacterial infection. Bacteria from an infected tooth can travel into the cheek, gums, throat, tongue and even the jaw and facial bones, according to WebMD. It can also be intensely painful and cause inflammation of the surrounding tissues. In severe cases, a tooth infection can lead to airway obstruction and cause difficulty breathing. Tooth infections can also cause nausea, vomiting, fevers, chills and sweating.

According to an article in the New York Times, an infected tooth can also spread to the bones that support the teeth. It can produce severe, sharp or throbbing pain, a feeling of uneasiness and a bitter taste in the mouth. The lymph nodes may also enlarge, and the upper and lower jaw may become swollen. While a tooth infection is usually well managed with oral antibiotics or extraction, certain people may require hospitalization to receive treatment with intravenous antibiotics. Certain tooth infections can lead to extreme illness and may even prove life-threatening if not recognized and treated early.

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