7 Symptoms that Signal a Dental Infection

When faced with any imbalance in your mouth, you need to see a specialist so that they can examine you and find any possible dental infections or oral problems. How to detect a dental infection? Read on!
7 Symptoms that Signal a Dental Infection
Sofía Quintana Alonso

Reviewed and approved by the physiotherapist Sofía Quintana Alonso.

Last update: 15 December, 2022

Your teeth are in constant contact with food residue and bacteria. Your dietary hygiene practices help you to keep your mouth clean and healthy. However, sometimes, a dental infections occurs.

These infections can be mild or moderate and, in some cases, even compromise your entire health. If they aren’t treated in time, they can cause very intense pain and the total loss of the affected tooth.

That’s why it’s essential to know its symptoms to seek professional help if you detect them. Pay attention!

1. Bad breath caused by a dental infection

A woman with bad breath.
Many factors can affect the appearance of bad breath. Plaque bacteria, like some foods, can be triggers.

Halitosis is one of the most evident symptoms of a dental infection. However, having bad breath doesn’t necessarily mean you have an infection if you don’t suffer from other symptoms.

According to a publication in the Journal of Natural Science, Biology, and Medicine, bad breath is caused by the excessive proliferation of bacteria, especially in areas where your brush can’t completely eliminate the residue.

If halitosis is due to an infection, oral hygiene products will only be a temporary solution. Thus, the bad breath will reappear until the infection goes away.

Halitosis could be a sign of:

  • Plaque.
  • Gingivitis.
  • Tooth decay.
  • Dental abscesses
  • Saliva alterations.

2. Wearing away of your enamel

When a dental infection begins to develop, the bacteria on the teeth produce corrosive acids that, over time, affect the enamel that protects them. The foods that increase the presence of these bacteria are fermentable carbohydrates, such as sugar.

The proliferation of acid-producing bacteria occurs in areas where food scraps build up. These areas are easy to identify by their rough texture and yellowish appearance. You can keep that plaque under control by:

  • Maintaining good hygiene.
  • Limiting your consumption of sugars.
  • Letting saliva regulate the pH of the mouth when you aren’t eating. That means eating less often, or not snacking between meals.

According to a publication in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, if you don’t take care of and treat plaque buildup, excess acid can cause serious tooth weakening, causing it to lose density and even break.

3. Jaw and tooth pain

A woman with a toochache.

Generally speaking, infections are related to bacterial plaque buildup. Constant or intermittent jaw and teeth pain can alert you to the development of periodontal disease or dental infection. This symptom should be evaluated by a dentist, as it can occur due to different oral conditions or injuries.

4. Bleeding gums

Bleeding gums usually appear when there’s some type of injury or infection that involves the tissue. It’s common to notice them when you’re brushing your teeth or using dental floss and, sometimes, when you eat some foods.

According to a publication in the National Center for Biotechnology Information, its most common cause is gingivitis, which, in turn, is caused by bacterial plaque growth.

5. Inflammation and redness

A person with swollen and bleeding gums.

Periodontal infection, which includes cavities, causes gum inflammation and reddening. This is almost always accompanied by pain. Taking care of it quickly is important for preventing complications. If your gums before swollen and red and hurt, go see your dentist as soon as possible.

6. Loose teeth

Feeling a loose tooth is more than enough reason to consult a dentist as soon as possible, and is also a symptom of possible periodontitis.

Loose teeth are a sign of the progress of dental infection and, at the same time, alert that the bone structure of the tooth support is eroding. It’s common when gingivitis isn’t controlled in time, thus becoming periodontitis.

Periodontitis can cause tooth displacement in the affected area and, in more severe cases, causes bone tissue deterioration.

7. Pus

The appearance of pus on the gums is a sign of periodontal disease, and sometimes dental infection as well. The lump of pus or “phlegmon” occurs as an immune system response to the attack of the pathogenic bacteria that cause the infection.

  • Pus lumps, called abscesses, have blood and pus inside them.
  • Abscesses are the product of complex infectious processes that must be treated by a professional. If not controlled in time, it can cause irreversible damage.
  • The infection can lead to the destruction of alveolar bone (the area of the jaw that supports the teeth).


Any suspected infection or disease of your teeth or gums should be examined by a professional to avoid complications.
Untreated dental abscesses can make the infection spread to other areas of the body. It’s essential to stop the infection in time with proper treatment so that this doesn’t happen.

To reduce the risk of dental infections, you need to maintain good oral hygiene and, in addition, consult your dentist regularly.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

  • Manriv, N. (2010). La enfermedad periodontal, Enfermedad de las encías. National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research 14.
  • Herrera González, D., Roldán Díaz, S., and Sanz Alonso, M. (2003). El absceso periodontal. Periodoncia 13, 7–20.
  • Aylıkcı BU, Colak H. Halitosis: From diagnosis to management. J Nat Sci Biol Med. 2013;4(1):14–23. doi:10.4103/0976-9668.107255
  • Erazo D, Whetstone DR. Dental Infections. [Updated 2019 Nov 11]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2019 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK542165/
  • Riverón, J., Rodríguez, A., Coutin, G., and Riveron, F. (2003). Factores de riesgo asociados con la enfermedad caries dental en niños.
  • Alvares, O. F. (2018). Periodontal diseases. In Nutritional Aspects of Aging: Volume 2. https://doi.org/10.1201/9781351075145

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.