I went to see a dentist because of serious pain I was having along with swelling in my cheek that went all the way up to my eye. He said I have a massive infection and gave me some antibiotics. I have been taking them. The infection seemed to be getting better but then got worse again. Now I am out of antibiotics. Do I just call to get a refill or is something else going on?

Morgan

Dear Morgan,

Man in pain, grabbing his cheek in need of emergency dental care.

Are you certain the dentist you went to didn’t tell you to make a follow-up appointment? Antibiotics alone do not cure a tooth infection the way they do with other types of bacterial infections. Instead, they just keep the infection from spreading. The reason tooth infections are different is because, at some point, the pulp inside the tooth dies. This means there is no longer any blood flow to get the antibiotic to the infected tissue.

This means while the infection will seem to improve for a bit, without completing the treatment the infection will return. When that happens, it is dangerous and considered a dental emergency. This is where you are now.

The Solution to a Tooth Infection

The only way to truly solve a tooth infection is to remove the infected pulp. A dentist can do this two ways. The first is a root canal treatment. This is what you want because it will save your tooth. If that doesn’t work or it is too late to save the tooth, your next option is a tooth extraction.

If you end up having to extract the tooth, you’ll also want to replace it. Because you lose the root of your tooth when you have an extraction, you will want to replace that root. The only tooth replacement that does this is a dental implant. Without replacing the root, the minerals in the jawbone where the tooth was will begin to resorb and the bone in that area begins to disappear.

Bottom line, this is serious. Get to a dentist right away and get this treated.
This blog is brought to you by Gilbert Dentist Dr. Matt Roper.