A dental abscess is painful, dangerous and generally unpleasant. When bacteria have their way in your mouth, it creates problems for your gums and teeth.
What should you do if you have a dental abscess?
What Is an Abscess?
A dental abscess is an infection that takes one of three forms:
- A gingival abscess is a swelling of the gum tissue.
- A periodontal abscess originates in the tooth or jaw’s bone structure.
- A periapical abscess starts in the tooth’s soft inner pulp.
Signs and Symptoms
If you have a severe toothache or pain around one tooth when you bite, it could be abscessed. Touching the affected area may hurt as well, and you may be increasingly sensitive to hot or cold foods and liquids.
You may also develop a fever and swollen lymph nodes in your neck. Your mouth may have a foul taste. Your gums and jaw may swell and become unusually red.
What Causes It?
The main cause of a dental abscess is bacteria. Bacteria can infiltrate the gums, teeth and jaw through a cavity or tooth trauma. If the infection goes unchecked, it can turn into an abscess.
In some cases, when the abscess affects the inner pulp of a tooth, the pulp may die from the infection and you won’t feel any pain, since the nerves are no longer receptive. This does not mean the infection has gone away — you just don’t feel the associated discomfort. You still need to see a dentist.
To diagnose your condition, your dentist will examine the area and probe the tissues to test your pain level. They may take digital X-rays to check for bone erosion and to find the exact location of the infection.
To facilitate healing and clean out the infection, your dentist will need to drain the dental abscess. If it’s inside a tooth, you may need a root canal. If the tooth is beyond saving, your dentist may recommend extraction to eliminate the infection. They may also recommend incising the surrounding gum tissue. You will likely receive an antibiotic prescription to fight the infection and eradicate any lingering bacteria.
When Do You Need an Oral Surgeon?
If a dental abscess goes untreated, it creates more damage. It can cause a cyst to form in the jawbone. The cyst may be healed through root canal therapy or extraction, but if it isn’t, surgery may be necessary. Cysts that grow too large can fracture the jawbone and threaten the stability of surrounding teeth.
You can depend on Northeast Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery for caring oral health care in the case of a dental abscess. You may be having significant pain due to this infection, but you don’t have to go through any pain finding a trusted oral surgeon to help your healing process — you’ve arrived at the right place.