A Tooth Abscess is a pocket of pus that is caused by a bacterial infection. This dental infection can take place in any part of the tooth.
There are three types of Dental Abscess:
- Peripheral Abscess: This occurs at the tip of the root of the tooth
- Periodontal Abscess: Occurs in the gums at the side of the root
- Gingival Abscess: It occurs on the gums.
A peripheral abscess occurs due to an untreated dental cavity, an injury, or prior dental work.
Whereas, a periodontal abscess occurs due to infection in the space between teeth and gums.
Let us discuss what causes cavity and gum infection
Cavities and Gum Infections
Our mouth consists of good and bad bacteria, but when we eat too much starch and sugary food, the bad bacteria convert it into acid.
This acid attacks the enamel of the tooth which causes Cavity. A Tooth Cavity is a small opening or hole and appears as a white spot in the early stages.
If you do not get treatment for cavities, the bacteria destroy the dentin, therefore damaging the nerves and tissues around the tooth.
Because of this damage, a pocket of pus forms near the root of your tooth which can cause infection.
Gum and dental infections are the results of sticky film in the mouth that covers the teeth.
If we do not brush our teeth properly in the morning, this sticky film destroys the tooth and the gum tissues around the tooth.
Your dentist will treat the dental abscess by draining it and getting rid of the infection.
They may be able to save your tooth with a root canal treatment but in some cases, your dentist may need to extract the tooth.
If you do not get treatment for the abscess in time, it can lead to some serious health issues even life-threatening complications.
Signs and Symptoms of Tooth Abscess
The signs and symptoms of an Abscess are:
You have a severe, persistent, and throbbing pain or toothache that radiates to the jaw bone, neck, or ear
When you drink or eat something you feel hot or cold which is a sign of sensitivity.
While chewing or biting you feel pressure on your teeth. Fever might occur due to infection
You have tender and swollen lymph nodes under your jaw or in your neck.
Breathing and swallowing become difficult for you. Moreover, there is a sudden rush of foul-smelling and salty tasting if the abscess ruptures.
Causes of Tooth Abscess
When you do not take care of your oral and dental hygiene, the bacteria present in your mouth attack your teeth and gums and lead to dental or abscesses.
Most of the causes of dental infections in the tooth are a deep cavity or decaying tooth, Gum diseases, and Cracked tooth.
Moreover, this also depends on the type of Tooth Abscess and are:
Periapical Abscess: When bacteria enter your tooth and form a cavity. This bacteria damages the pulp which is the innermost part of your tooth.
Pulp is a soft inner part of your tooth that is made of nerves, connective tissues, and blood vessels.
Periodontal Abscess: Gum disease causes this type of abscess but it can also be the result of an injury as well.
Gingival Abscess: When you eat a popcorn hull or a toothbrush bristle gets embedded between your teeth and gums, it can result in a gingival abscess.
Diagnosis of an Abscess
When you visit your dentist, they will first examine your mouth and look for swollen gums.
They might take a dental X-ray that shows the cavity in your affected tooth, whether the infection is in the jaw bone and affecting other teeth as well or not.
You might notice the following things:
- Pain and swelling in your gums
- Foul taste if the tooth abscess ruptures.
- When you eat something and chew in the area of infection is causes severe pain.
- Swollen lymph nodes and persistent fever due to infection
Most often, an abscess causes a bump on your gum and if you press it liquid oozes out which is pus.
The goal of treatment is to get rid of dental infections. To accomplish this goal your dentist will take the following steps:
Anti-biotics: If the infection is limited to the area of infection, you may not get anti-biotics.
But if the infection is affecting the nearby teeth and other areas, your dentist will prescribe you antibiotics to stop it from spreading further.
In case you are unable to get an appointment with your dentist, you can take over-the-counter medications or anti-inflammatory medications like Advil or Motrin, which will help you ease out the severe pain.
Drain the Abscess: Your dentist will make a small incision or a cut into the abscess which allows the abscess to drain out.
They will then drain it out and wash this area with saltwater. Your dentist might place a small rubber drain in the area of the incision to keep the area open for drainage.
The swelling decreases with time while the rubber drainage is placed.
Dental Procedures for Tooth Abscess
They will do this procedure to eliminate infection and save your tooth.
In this procedure, your dentist will drill down a hole into your tooth and remove the infected part and drain the abscess.
They will then fill the tooth with Tooth Fillings which will seal the pulp chamber and root canals of your tooth.
To make your tooth stronger and prevent further infection, your dentist will cap it with a dental crown especially in case of molars or wisdom teeth.
Tooth Extraction: If the bacteria is affecting your pulp and damaging your nerve endings and surrounding tissues then your dentist will have to pull out the tooth.
After the tooth extraction procedure, they will drain out the abscess, to get rid of the infection.
A dental abscess usually arises from infections that develop inside the tooth. Besides, if you have a broken, chipped, or decaying tooth it can also enter that tooth.
However, if it reaches down the pulp of your tooth it can cause a pocket of pus which causes toothache and swelling.
You can use the following remedies in the initial stages of tooth abscess:
Baking Soda: This is an affordable option for treating this disease. Baking soda is excellent for removing plaque.
It has anti-bacterial properties which are great for treating infections. Rinse your mouth at least twice a day.
Cold Compress: It helps to reduce pain and swelling around your teeth, gums, and jaw. Gently use the compress against your skin for at least 15 minutes.
This remedy can be used multiple times during the day.
Clove essential oil: Clove has is one of the most popular ingredients that is used by many people and helps you remove pain and swelling.
Due to its anti-bacterial and anti-inflammatory properties, it has been used for many years.
You have to place a cotton bud in the infected area after dipping in the clove oil. This helps to remove pain and swelling around the gum.
Complications and Risk Factors
Thinking that abscesses will go on their own is the wrong approach towards it.
You will have to get treatment for a dental abscess even if it ruptures.
Moreover, you will need treatment to completely remove it from the tooth.
This helps to prevent infection from spreading to the nearby teeth and damaging the nerve endings of the tooth.
Go to the hospital’s emergency room if your tooth abscess is accompanied by high fever and facial swelling, difficulty swallowing, and rapid heart rate, and confusion
This can sometimes lead to life-threatening complications and the development of sepsis which can spread throughout your body.
Your risk of spreading infection increases even more if you have a weakened immune system and you do not get treatment for abscess.
Prevention of Tooth Abscess
When you take care of your dental and oral hygiene, i.e. brushing twice daily and flossing once a day, you can, therefore, decrease the chances of developing an abscess.
You can also use fluoride toothpaste, replace your toothbrush every 3 or 6 months, eating a healthy and balanced diet to prevent dental diseases.
Moreover, dental scaling and polishing every month can prevent oral and dental diseases.
Maintaining good oral and dental hygiene is an important part as it not only improves your appearance but your quality of life as well. It not only protects from dental cavities but also from gum infections that can lead to tooth decay and eventually tooth loss
If you do not take care of your teeth and hygiene, it can cause life-threatening illnesses. Even if an abscess seems to drain out on its own, it is important to get professional cleaning as well so that it may not spread to other teeth and jaw.
You can reduce your risk of developing cavities, gum diseases, and tooth abscesses by marinating good oral and dental health, flossing at least once a day, using fluoride toothpaste, regularly visiting your dentist, and practicing good oral and dental hygiene.