Guide to Dental Abscesses and Dental Infections
One of the most common reasons that people require emergency dental surgery is because one or more dental abscesses have formed on their teeth. An abscess can cause an unexpected and severe discomfort in the affected tooth. However, discomfort is not limited to the affected tooth. It can also spread to the jaw, gums and face.
Usually, an abscess requires emergency treatment by your dentist. If a dental abscess is left untreated, the tooth will ultimately need to be extracted to stop the infection from spreading to the other teeth or surrounding gums.
What is an abscess?
Abscesses are your body’s way of keeping infections from spreading, and they can happen anywhere in your body. When you have an infection, your immune system fights back, creating dead cells inside your body. These dead cells make up the pus that fills abscesses. They’re common in teeth when dental infections go untreated, usually resulting in the need for a root canal or extraction.
Abscesses cause discomfort because they create pressure as they grow. If an abscess is left untreated, it may burst. While this may relieve any discomfort initially, it can also cause further complications in the future, as it enables the infection to spread.
What causes a dental abscess?
Dental abscesses can be caused by injury or trauma to the tooth. However, dental abscesses are most commonly caused by dental decay, or a cavity, that allows the tooth or the areas around the tooth to become infected.
You can avoid a dental abscess if you maintain good oral hygiene. Plaque and bacteria build up on your teeth each day, so regular brushing and flossing are essential. However, plaque will build up in hard to reach places, such as the back of the mouth. Thus, it is important that you visit your Lincoln dentist clinic at least once every six months for a regular cleaning.
What are the symptoms of a dental abscess or dental infection?
One of the most common descriptions of the pain caused by a dental abscesses is that it isn’t localized to one tooth. The pain spreads across the cheeks, jaw and face. If the infection spreads, your gums around the infected tooth can become infected, sore and swollen too. The spread of pain may mean that it can be difficult to locate which tooth is sore – although you may experience some more localized pain if you bite down on the affected tooth. Similarly, if the decay is extensive, the affected tooth may already feel slightly loose.
Other signs of a dental abscess include fever, pain or discomfort when chewing, sensitivity to hot or cold, a bitter taste in the mouth, bad breath, swollen neck glands, and general illness. Also, you may see what looks like a pimple or a bubble on your gum tissue near your tooth. You may even notice this bubble can start to drain.
If you are in severe pain and think you may have a dental abscess, you should call our emergency dental clinic. If you ignore this for too long, your tooth will need to be extracted. Sometimes, the infection that begins in your tooth can spread causing further complications; therefore, early treatment is essential.
Some people who have a dental abscess find that the pain starts to ease naturally. If this happens, you might be tempted to think that the worst is over. This is not the case. Sometimes, these can burst on their own, which releases the pressure on the tooth and relieves the pain. However, the tooth remains susceptible to infection. You still need to visit your dental clinic to have the tooth looked at, the decay removed, and if possible, the cavity filled.
If the pain in your tooth does not reduce naturally, taking over-the-counter medications can help until your dentist is available. It can also help to apply a cold compress to the side of your face, to relieve any throbbing pain in your jaw, cheek, and face.
How is a dental abscess treated?
Treating your abscess will depend on the type of abscess you have. A gingival abscess that occurs on the surface of the gums can be drained to relieve the pain and pressure. The infection can then be treated with antibiotics.
Similarly, a periodontal abscess will need to be drained immediately to relieve the pressure and reduce the pain. However, once the periodontal abscess has been removed, there is still space left in the pocket between the gum and tooth where the abscess had developed. Therefore, a course of antibiotics will not be enough to ensure that the infection does not return. In these cases, your Lincoln dentist will need to clean the space where the abscess was, removing any remnants of infection. By smoothing the surfaces of the tooth, your dentist may be able to encourage the gum to grow back around the roots of the tooth.
Treatment for a periapical abscess is more complex than for a gingival or periodontal abscess. This is an abscess caused by an infection of the nerve of the tooth, so your dentist may need to take an x-ray to identify which tooth has the abscess. Once the tooth is identified, your Lincoln dentist will need to perform root canal treatment. As with any form of dental treatment, the cost of a root canal can vary as there may be other dental treatment involved to make sure that the abscess is properly treated.
Will a dental abscess return?
With the appropriate treatment, the infection will be cleaned out, and the tooth will be preserved. Therefore, even if you experience a reduction in pain because the abscess bursts naturally, you must still visit your Lincoln dentist. Treatment is required to stop the infection from returning again.
If the infection does return, it can cause numerous complications, including the need to extract the tooth. However, the spread of the infection can also cause problems beyond the infected tooth.
Commonly asked questions about Dental Abscesses:
What can you do to bring down swelling from a dental abscess or dental infection?
If you think you may have a dental abscess, contact your emergency dentist to set up an appointment as soon as possible. Your dentist will drain the abscess which will reduce your swelling dramatically.
How to treat a tooth abscess without antibiotics?
There are home remedies that can be used instead of taking an antibiotic to help alleviate pain temporarily. It is recommended that you visit your Lincoln dentist to evaluate the abscessed tooth for root canal therapy or extraction.
How to treat a tooth abscess in a child?
The infected tooth may be treated with a root canal if it is a baby tooth that is not mobile or if it is a permanent tooth. In some cases, an abscessed tooth may be extracted.
How can I treat dental abscesses while pregnant?
An abscessed tooth while pregnant should be treated immediately with a root canal or tooth extraction. Clearing the infection will help prevent harmful bacteria from harming the fetus.
How can I treat dental abscesses with garlic?
Garlic can act as an anti-inflammatory and antibiotic, which if used regularly, can help temporarily relieve pain caused by an abscess. As garlic is only a temporary fix to the pain, a root canal or extraction is usually recommended to clear the infection.
If you need more information about a solution that works for you, contact us at Northstar Dental.
Check out the “Best Treatment for Periodontal Disease” video