tooth health

Infections to the tooth classification, causes, symptoms and therapies

Important introduction

Being a delicious target of infections of all kinds, even the teeth are often found in the sight of bacteria.

These microscopic teeth enemies, attracted by rotting food residues trapped between the dental elements, attack the enamel and, upon reaching the dentin, continue their journey towards the dental pulp. Roughly speaking, this is how bacteria give life to most dental infections, from the simplest caries to the most complex pulpits.

Tooth infections are numerous and varied, and each of them is distinguished by its triggering cause and the symptoms with which it occurs (to learn more, see the introductory article on dental infections).

Table of dental infections

To simplify the analysis and offer an immediate understanding of the topic, the table shows all the main dental infections. We invite the reader to dwell on causes and symptoms to anticipate infections, possibly containing them in the bud. The following treatment will also present the therapies currently available to remove the infectious outbreak.


Infection triggered by the attack of some oral bacteria directly on the tooth enamel. The infection, evolving in a negative sense, can progressively destroy the hard tissues of the tooth, up to spoil the pulp.

  • Plaque deposit around the tooth
  • Reduction of saliva secretion (natural self-cleaning substance)
  • Crooked teeth and difficulty in carefully cleaning teeth
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Diet rich in sugary foods
  • Alteration of natural dental color (teeth appear yellow and opaque)
  • Evident presence of a dark furrow (rich in food residues in the putrefactive phase)
  • Halitosis
  • toothache
  • Sensitivity to heat, cold, sweet and acid
  • Possible degeneration in pulpitis, abscess and destruction of the root
  • Obturation (treatment of choice to combat this type of dental infection)
  • Devitalization (in case of progression of infection to the pulp)
  • Tooth extraction (extremely rare eventuality in the presence of mild to moderate caries)


Inflammation of the dental pulp (inflammation of the tooth nerve)

  • Complicated caries
  • Tooth trauma
  • Periodontitis or pyorrhea
  • Thermal insults derived from dental procedures (eg laser bleaching with CO 2 lamps)
  • Bruxism
  • Dental malocclusion
  • Poor / incorrect oral hygiene
  • Asymptomatic infection (first stage)
  • Toothache sharp, penetrating, pulsating
  • Toothache difficult to locate precisely
  • Accentuation of tooth pain during chewing
  • Increased dentinal sensitivity
  • Devitalization of the tooth (elective treatment to fight infection)
  • Administration of analgesics to mask pain
  • Tooth extraction (extreme cases)

Tooth abscess

Accumulation of pus (bacteria, white blood cells, cellular debris and plasma) in the tissues surrounding a tooth. The dental abscess tends to form, in particular, at the level of the gingiva, mandibular bone or dental pulp.

  • Complicated caries (which cause pus-rich dental infections)
  • Serious dental injuries
  • Poor steps on the teeth
  • Bad oral hygiene
  • Diabetes
  • Gastroesophageal reflux disease
  • AIDS
  • Dry mouth
  • Smoking and alcoholism
  • Long-term corticosteroid therapy
  • Fierce and implacable toothache
  • Swollen gums
  • Halitosis
  • Dentinal hypersensitivity
  • Temperature
  • Enlarged lymph nodes in the neck
  • Specific antibiotic care
  • Administration of anti-inflammatory / pain-relieving drugs (NSAIDs) to control pain
  • Drainage of pus

Dental cyst

Pathological sac lined with epithelium of lining and filled with serous, mucous or gaseous fluid. Typical complication of pulpal necrosis, the dental cyst always requires a rather invasive dental procedure.

  • pulpitis
  • Complicated caries
  • Dental granuloma
  • Tooth abscess
  • Dental inclusion
  • Bad devitalization
  • Poor tooth extraction
  • Asymptomatic (initial phase)
  • Toothache
  • Swelling of a mandibular / maxillary bone section
  • Swollen gums
  • Lip swelling
  • Halitosis
  • Dental mobility
  • Surgical removal of dental infection
  • Drainage of the dental cyst
  • apicectomy
  • Tooth removal

Dental granuloma

Chronic inflammation, generally asymptomatic and non-suppurative, of the root tip and its surrounding tissues

  • Untreated pulpits
  • Advanced caries
  • Pulp necrosis
  • Badly chipped teeth
  • Complication of pyorrhea
  • Penetration of a foreign body in the gum
  • Failure of a dental filling
  • Initial stage: the granuloma tends to be asymptomatic
  • Advanced stage (after months / years after granuloma formation): the infection can cause toothache, dental torment and swollen gums
  • Complications: cysts and fistulas
  • Devitalization (treatment of choice for treating the infection)
  • Apicectomy (advanced stage granuloma)
  • Tooth extraction (extreme case)


Inflammation of the alveolus, the bone cavity in which the roots of the teeth are housed. This is a typical infection that occurs after the extraction of a wisdom tooth or any other tooth. The condition tends to self-purify within a few days or a few weeks after the onset of symptoms.

  • Faulty extraction of a wisdom tooth
  • Malformed extraction of molars, incisors or canines
  • Extraction of severely damaged teeth from infections
  • Extraction of included teeth (risk factor)
  • smoking (risk factor)
  • Very intense toothache, such as to withstand a common analgesic treatment with NSAIDs. Pain starts 3-4 days after a tooth is extracted
  • High fever
  • Gingivitis
  • Profuse infection
  • Fetid odor in the gingival area affected by alveolitis
  • Bad breath
Alveolite tends to regress by itself, without necessarily intervening with a specific cure. No therapy can effectively reverse the infection in a short time. However, there are some tricks, useful for stopping or masking - albeit partially - the pain:
  • Washes with medicated chlorhexidine-based mouthwashes
  • Placement of a sterile gauze soaked in analgesic substances in the alveolus
  • Washing with physiological solution
  • Topical application of lidocaine-based creams (local anesthetic)


Inflammation of the gums. Generally, the phenomenon is not worrisome and does not always hide an al dente infection. Other times, on the other hand, gingivitis is an indicator light of serious dental pathologies such as pyorrhea.

  • Accumulation of plaque on the surface of teeth and gums
  • Dental cleaning with a hard bristle toothbrush
  • Poor oral hygiene
  • Long-term therapy with corticosteroids and antidepressants
  • Vitamin deficiency
  • Genetic predisposition
  • pyorrhea
  • Caries
  • Pulpits
  • Dental granuloma
  • Al dente cysts
  • Irritation and inflammation of the gums
  • Gums that bleed
  • Halitosis
  • Fall of the teeth (in the presence of gingivitis associated with pyorrhea)
  • Changes in color, shape and texture of the gums
Treatment depends on the underlying cause. In general, gingivitis resolves after careful scaling. However, when gingivitis hides tooth infections, it is necessary to intervene more aggressively by removing the responsible pathogen (eg, filling, devitalization, apicectomy, etc.).

Piorrea or periodontitis

Severe gingival infection of the periodontium, the teeth supporting apparatus consisting of gingiva, elastic connecting fibers and mandibular / maxillary bone. It is a serious dental infection that, by slowly destroying soft tissues and supporting bones, promotes the loss of permanent teeth.

  • Accumulation of plaque and tartar
  • Gingivitis
  • Untreated caries
  • Formation of bacterial pockets in periodontal pockets
  • Neglected dental hygiene
  • Asymptomatic (initial stage)
  • Halitosis
  • Taste alteration in the mouth
  • Swollen gums
  • Appearance of interdental spaces
  • Gingival bleeding
  • Progressive destruction of bones and gums
  • Gingival recessions
  • Sensitive teeth
  • Loss of teeth
  • Removal of tartar and plaque from the teeth and under the gums (innovative ultrasound treatment)
  • Removal of tartar hidden under the gum, near the periodontal pockets (root planing)
  • Other more or less invasive surgical techniques (eg. Flap surgery, soft tissue grafts, bone grafting, tissue regeneration)
  • Administration of antibiotics to control tooth infections