Do Tooth Infections Cause Lightheadedness?

A tooth infection can cause severe discomfort, even preventing you from going about your daily activities. You may experience throbbing pain, gum tenderness, swelling and a sore jaw. Dental problems can also lead to other complications, such as headaches and lightheadedness.

A toothache may be due to an abscess in the tooth or the gums. (Image: Stockbyte/Stockbyte/Getty Images)

Causes

A tooth infection or toothache can be caused by an abscess in a tooth or in the surrounding gums. An abscess is an accumulation of pus that contains white blood cells, dead tissue and bacteria. You can develop a tooth infection if the outer portion of the tooth is damaged by a cavity, a chip or a break, or it has worn away. Bacteria enters the tooth through this opening and causes an infection. When the abscess reaches the roots of the tooth, you may experience symptoms such as throbbing pain, discomfort, swelling of the gums and face, and tooth sensitivity to hot and cold.

Balance

Lightheadedness is a sensation of faintness or dizziness. The ear controls your sense of balance as well as hearing. The inner ear contains a small fluid-filled structure called the labyrinth, which helps the brain find your center of balance. Damage or an infection to this area can cause dizziness or vertigo. In some cases, an infection in the teeth can spread to the nerves of the ears, leading to lightheadedness.

Anxiety

A tooth infection can cause severe throbbing pain in the jaw and head. This can disrupt sleep and cause stress and anxiety attacks. A tooth infection may also hinder your ability to eat. All of these factors can indirectly lead to feeling lightheaded, which should resolve once the tooth infection clears up and the damage to the tooth is repaired by a dentist.

Medications

Your dentist will likely prescribe broad spectrum antibiotics to treat the infection by attacking all the bacteria in the abscess. To prevent the bacterial infection from spreading to other areas of the mouth and head, it must be cleared up before the tooth can be drilled and repaired with a filling. Your dentist may also prescribe sedatives and sleep aids if your oral health problems are preventing you from sleeping normally. All of these medications can cause side effects, including lightheadedness or dizziness.

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