A dental abscess is an infection of the mouth, face, jaw or throat that began as a cavity or tooth infection. These infections can be caused by preventable improper dental hygiene or the unpreventable condition of autoimmune disorders. Dental abscesses can also be caused by trauma in the mouth or oral cavity.
A dental abscess can form when bacteria is carried from the cavity and extend to the gums, cheek, tongue, throat etc and it can be very painful when the tissues become inflamed. A dental abscess can also be caused by dead pulp tissue caused by untreated tooth decay or a cracked tooth.
The abscess forms because it is the body’s natural defence mechanism in which the body attempts to localize the infection so that the infection can not spread from the area.
Pus can develop at the site of the infection and will become progressively more painful until the abscess ruptures and is drained on its own or is drained surgically.
There are three different types of dental abscesses:
- gum or gingival abscess is the result of an infection or trauma to the surface of the gum tissue. It is caused by an injury to or infection of the gum tissue
- periodontal abscess is the result of an infection that has moved deeper into the gum areas and pain and pus are present
- periapical abscess refers to a tooth with an infection of the soft pulp of the tooth.
Dental abscesses can be severe enough to make you ill and cause nausea, vomiting, fevers, chills and sweats. The pain may be described as sharp, shooting or throbbing. It is normal for the tooth and surrounding gums to be very painful to the touch.
Getting the abscess looked at by your dentist right away will not only save your teeth and gums but your overall well being.
The dental abscess may get more painful if warm liquids or pressure is applied to the area. Pain and swelling may be reduced if you apply ice packs.
An acute abscess may become present and have no pain but will still have a lot of swelling. You still need to have this checked by your dentist before it gets worse.
In severe cases the dental abscess may perforate through the bone and may drain out into the surrounding area causing facial swelling and pain. The pain can feel like a migraine. In some cases the lymph glands can become swollen and painful to touch.
Treatment for a dental abscess starts with fighting the infection; reduce swelling and possibly root canal to fix the affected tooth. Treatment of the infection and swelling starts with antibiotics and draining the pus from the infected area. Root canal or tooth extraction may be necessary only if the infection spreads that far.
Before you can get to your dentist, we recommend that you use an over the counter pain killer, drink lots of fluids (not hot ones) and eat soft foods, and get some bed rest.
Failure to treat a dental abscess can cause serious infection and tooth loss as well as some underlying gum damage – for a consultation call us at 1-877-283-0497.