A dental abscess is a pocket of infection that will form somewhere in your gums or around the root of your tooth. This infection can happen to anyone and should be taken seriously.
There are three kinds of dental abscesses that are common:
- A gingival abscess develops in the gums and usually doesn’t affect the tooth.
- A periapical abscess develops at the tip of a tooth root.
- A periodontal abscess affects the bones and tissues that support a tooth.
What causes the infection?
There are many reasons you might get a tooth abscess, and not all of them are within your control. Here are some causes:
- Severe tooth decay (i.e., cavities)
- Broken or cracked teeth, giving the infection an access point
- Gum disease (i.e., periodontitis)
- Trauma to the tooth
Preventative dentistry, like great hygiene habits and regular dentist visits, is the best way to avoid developing an abscess.
How can tooth abscesses be detected?
Sometimes, detecting a dental abscess can be easy. You may see a pimple-like bump in your mouth that starts to ooze bacteria or pus.
However, other times it can be difficult to figure out if you have an abscess by yourself. You might need professional help to diagnose the problem. Here are some signs to look out for:
- Swelling in the gums, cheeks, neck, or lymph nodes
- Difficulty swallowing or even breathing
- Foul odour or taste
- Temperature sensitivity
- Severe and constant toothache
Any of these symptoms should prompt you to get on the phone with your dentist immediately.
How can the infection be treated?
A tooth abscess will not disappear on its own; you’ll need a little help to get rid of it. Work with your dentist to develop a treatment plan. Your plan may include:
- Antibiotics to treat the infection; however, this won’t treat the cause of the infection, so the abscess will come back in time.
- A root canal to clean out the infected pulp.
- Surgery to drain the abscess and clean the surrounding tissue.
- Extraction if the tooth is unrepairable.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Even if your tooth abscess ruptures on its own, you need to see your dentist.
Are dental abscesses an emergency?
A tooth abscess is DEFINITELY a dental emergency. You should seek professional help right away.
Leaving an abscess unattended could result in the infection spreading. Tooth abscesses have been known to spread throughout the jaw, head, and neck, causing major pain and problems. Sometimes, an abscessed tooth will create an opening to the maxillary sinus, allowing the infection to spread to the sinus cavity.
In extreme cases, these abscesses can cause a life-threatening infection, known as sepsis, that spreads throughout your entire body.
Call Life Dentistry @ 780-758-5433 if you need help immediately. You can also book an appointment here.