A Tooth abscess is a swelling of the gum which often leads to pain which can be unbearable. The area swells because there is an infection in the tooth or the root of the tooth which causes the production of pus in the tissues of the jawbone. This pus tends to increase in volume which causes greater swelling and thus causes greater pain.
The person with an abscessed tooth may not be able to sleep or get relief. Any pressure that is put upon the area causes great pain. The pain comes from the upsetting of a nerve. Terms used to describe the pain are gnawing, shooting, sharp and throbbing.
The solution is to eliminate the cause of the infection. When the infection is gone, pus is no longer created and the swelling goes down which alleviates the pain.
It is very important to address an abscessed tooth as soon as possible. Do not just ignore it. If left unchecked, the following issues may result.
– Other teeth surrounding the abscessed one may become infected as well which will complicate matters.
– A persistent abscess will eventually eat away at the jaw which will cause teeth to fall out.
– Your face may become disfigured and the soft facial bones may be compromised.
– Death could eventually result from the spread of the infection throughout the rest of the body.
What causes the infection in the first place?
The basic cause is bacteria that gets into the soft pulp of the tooth. This can result when there is an untreated tooth, a cracked tooth, periodontal disease, or a failed root canal treatment. The bacteria enters the tooth and multiplies leading to infection.
How should an abscess be treated?
There are basically 3 ways this can be treated.
– Killing the bacteria, usually with antibiotics so the body can repair tooth and bone. This usually works well within 2 days and is healed in about 5 days. The only problem with this is that if the infection has penetrated the tooth, the antibiotic can’t penetrate the tooth because of the very small blood vessels. The antibiotics are too big and can’t travel along the vessels.
– Having a root canal procedure. This drills out the infected pulp to cleanse the infection. Then the tooth is given a germ killer and resealed.
– Tooth extraction. An artificial tooth may be recommended.
What are the symptoms of an abscess?
– Early sign – feels like tooth is getting loose. May last 2 days
– Tooth is sitting higher because of pus buildup. There may not be pain at this point.
– Pain when fast airflow or cold fluids pass over the tooth. If tooth reacts badly to warm and hot fluids, the nerve is compromised and removal of nerve may be necessary.
– The pain can feel like the tooth will explode because of the pressure.
What can be done to prevent an abscess?
– Brush at least twice a day and floss once a day.
– See your dentist regularly.
– Maintain a healthy diet to maintain healthy teeth. Avoid sugary foods and drinks.