Whether you are young or hitting seniority, you can develop a dental abscess due to the infection and proliferation of bacteria in the tooth, gums, the bone holding the tooth, or surrounding tissues.
A dental abscess, which is more prevalent in individuals with poor oral health and hygiene, can start as a cavity or tooth infection.
A dental abscess in the gum is referred to as a periodontal abscess, while an abscess at the end of a tooth is known as a periapical abscess.
What causes a dental abscess?
A dental abscess may be due to the bacteria development from an existing cavity or infection in the face, neck, or soft tissue. It can also be caused by an untreated tooth infection or lack of proper dental care which has led to the accumulation of cavities.
When the cavity or infection is not treated, it can spread to adjacent areas and in the gums, ultimately becoming an abscess.
And when the abscess is left on its own, it can move beyond the oral cavity and travel to the neck, neck, and other portions of the body.
What are the typical signs of a dental abscess?
The common signs of a dental abscess are a pimple-like swelling on the gum, discomfort when pressure is put on the tooth especially when eating, and falling out of the necrotic pulp.
Known as a draining fistula, the pimple-like swelling on the gum is filled with pus that can be ruptured to release the thick yellowish liquid of an infected tissue.
On the one hand, discomfort and pain may be experienced as the abscess can affect the bones and gums. The pain is also an indication of the spread of the infection, causing more pressure on other structures like the bones and gums.
When the tooth has turned dark in color, it is an indication of the fallout of the necrotic pulp which has flowed to the tooth’s penetrable layer.
Other signs and symptoms of a dental abscess include swelling, redness, and pain in the mouth or face, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, chills, fever, oral swelling, tenderness and inflammation of the gums, cavities, and difficulty moving the mouth or swallowing.
How is a dental abscess diagnosed?
Diagnosis of a dental abscess includes patient’s report of signs and symptoms that may pertain to an infection or abscess.
However, some cases of a dental abscess have no visible or observable symptoms at all as the tooth may have become numb or lost its vitality. When no obvious indications are felt, a dental abscess can be diagnosed through a dental X-ray.
The dentist can also perform other tests and examinations depending on the case.
Can a dental abscess be treated?
Fortunately, yes. To treat a dental abscess, the infection is thoroughly and carefully removed by draining the infection out of the tooth and its surrounding structures. Oral antibiotics are also prescribed to fight off the bacteria.
After cleaning out the infection, a root canal treatment is performed to restore the tooth. Through a root canal treatment, a type of endodontic treatment, the pulp chamber, and the connected canals are cleaned out and covered using a gutta percha to shield the tooth from invasive infections.
However, if the tooth has become too infected, tooth extraction may be advised by your dentist instead to prevent the infection from damaging other teeth.
Over-the-counter medications like ibuprofen and paracetamol may help in relieving the pain due to a dental abscess, while a warm water rinse can clean the mouth when a dental abscess bursts.
Remember that experiencing no pain or discomfort or the lack of signs and symptoms are not indications of a treated abscess. A dental abscess will not heal or get better by itself. Removing the infection and treating the infected tooth by the dentist remain necessary to prevent the spread of bacteria and infection and avoid oral and non-oral related issues.
In cases when a dental abscess has rapidly spread, and urgent attention is needed, go to an emergency room or call an emergency dentist for immediate dental care.
Is a dental abscess preventable?
Most dental problems are preventable. A dental abscess can be prevented through proper and regular oral care. Basic oral hygiene must be religiously practiced to keep the teeth, gums, tongue, and mouth free from harmful bacteria and infection.
A routine dental check-up is also vital in ensuring that the oral health is in its best condition and tooth decays are immediately given the proper treatment as soon as possible.
It is also crucial to avoid habits or activities that can trigger or increase the risk of infections. Such activities include smoking and excessive alcohol consumption.