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Dr. Katz
Dr. Katz, Dentist - DDS
Category: Dental
Satisfied Customers: 2972
Experience:  Dentist and Anesthesiologist for 35 years.Anesthesiology Fellow-Johns Hopkins School of Medicine.Evaluator for Maryland State Board of Dental Examiners.
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How to know if a tooth infection has spread to the brain?

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How do I know if a tooth infection has spread to my brain? I have a pressure type headache and blurry vision and pressure around my sinuses.

Thanks for using Justanswer.

I am not sure if you are having a problem yourself. If you are please let me know the details so that I can ease your worries.

Tooth infections rarely get to a point that they will affect the brain. The natural path of infection for the teeth is to drain either into the mouth through the gum, through the bone into the soft tissue spaces of the face, or into the facial spaces of the neck.

On the rare occasion that a tooth infection reaches the brain. You would have to become septic. If you have an infection throughout the body via the bloodstream, you would most likely have had the infection for a long time. You would most likely have a fever and you would have had signs before of swelling in the mouth or face. You would be most likely be lethargic and feel sick and in the end stages become delirious, go into a coma, and then if no treatment by that time die. It is extremely rare. If you would like to tell me what problems that you are currently having, I would be glad to help you figure out what is going on.

If you are currently taking antibiotics the likelihood of any infection from your tooth going to your brain is pretty close to nil.

Customer: I had pain in the jaw a few months ago. Went to the doctor because I thought it was my sinuses. He gave me antibiotic but said he thought it was my teeth because I have gum disease. The pain went away with the antibiotics. Three months later I don't have any tooth pain but now some swelling in the gum right above bad tooth and headaches, pressure and vision changes.

I went to dentist on Sunday. X-rays were taken and more antibiotics given because of infected tooth


The swelling above the bad tooth is where the infection is trying to drain through. When the swelling in the gum becomes big enough, 98% of the time it will burst through a tiny fistula or opening in your mouth. You may even get a bad taste from the pu. It will close up and then burst again when it gets full. Do you currently have any medical problems like high blood pressure or diabetes? Do you have plans to have the infected tooth treated?

Customer: I am not aware of diabetes or high blood pressure. Was very concerned because there was a hard lump at the site of the bad tooth not soft like it would be if it had pus. I am hoping to take care of the tooth but have no dental insurance and it sounds like I may need to lose a number of teeth due to bone loss.

hoteego1: The hard lump may just be something called an exostosis or tori. These are just extra masses of bone that are found all over the mouth. Are not pathological and in most cases never have to be removed unless a denture was being placed in that area. Periodontal disease can run in families and it would be a good idea if you first got the infected tooth out and then do a little treatment at a time. Neglecting it will work against you in the long run. I would try to get at least this one tooth extracted while you are on the antibiotics. Bacteria become resistant to the antibiotics if you keep hitting them with the same drug.

Customer: Okay. My worry was about the head pressure I'm feeling and if I had already waited too long. I do plan to take care of the teeth. One at a time if the dentist is willing to work with me.

hoteego1: Headaches can be caused by mouth problems and are usually around the sides of the head in the temple area. And unfortunately when we reach our forties it is when we start to have some vision changes and start squinting and reaching for some store bought "readers". Where is the pain in your head currently?

Customer: The head pain is usually on one side. The same side of the tooth and can move from the temple to the back of the head on that side

hoteego1: You are most likely having problems with your bite. The teeth are moving and the jaw is not hitting evenly and you are probably trying to avoid hitting the infected tooth and it is affecting the joint in front of your ear. Get back to the dentist and treat the tooth. I am quite sure that you do not have a brain infection.

Customer: Thank you so much. My brain feels at ease now. You are wonderful

hoteego1: You should be taking penicillin Vk or amoxicillin for the infection any make sure that you stay on it the way it was prescribed. You should be fine. I am sure that you can find a good dentist that will help you.

Customer: They gave me amoxcycllin but I had severe vomiting so it was changed to charithomycin but I am sure to stay on and heed your advice

hoteego1: Okay good get back to me and let me know how you are doing. Good luck.

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