A dental abscess is a collection of pus inside your teeth, gums, or the bone holding your teeth in place. A dental abscess occurs in two main ways. First, the abscess that forms at the tip of your tooth is known as a periapical abscess. The second one is the abscess in your gum, which is called a periodontal abscess. When you leave the abscess untreated, it can lead to an infection.
Are you disturbed by dental abscesses? What are the symptoms of a dental abscess? If you see a red, swollen pimple on your gums or have painful cracked teeth, you want to visit a well-trained dentist to determine whether you have a dental abscess.
At South Coast Dentistry, we have treated numerous patients with dental abscesses. If you wish to treat your dental abscess in Alio Viejo, we are here for you. We start by examining your condition and offering the best treatment method.
What is a Dental Abscess?
A dental abscess is a pus-filled pocket that develops due to a bacterial infection in your gums. The abscess appears as a swollen lump, red pimple, or boil. An abscess affects the affected tooth and might spread to neighboring teeth and bone. Note that abscesses can occur on different surfaces for various reasons. For example, a periodontal abscess occurs at the gums around the sides of your tooth root.
Alternatively, a periapical abscess appears at the tip of your root. A periapical abscess occurs because of an untreated dental cavity, prior dental work, or an injury. The resulting infection, swelling, and irritation can lead to an abscess at the tip of your root.
Many dental experts treat the abscess by draining it. Root canal treatment can also be another good option to treat the infection. In rare cases, the dentist will need to pull the tooth out.
When you leave a tooth abscess untreated, it can cause life-threatening complications. So, when you notice any symptoms or signs of a tooth abscess, you want to visit your dentist as soon as possible. The dentist will help you treat the abscess. A dental abscess can occur because of three primary tooth infections. They are as follows:
It is an infection that develops in your gums. The infection does not affect your supporting structures or teeth. When left untreated, the infection can lead to dental abscesses.
A periapical abscess is an infection that develops at the tip of the tooth's root. Bacteria can infiltrate and spread to the pulp of a cracked or decaying tooth. The pulp is the innermost layer of your tooth, containing blood vessels and nerves. When germs infiltrate your pulp, the infection can extend to the root of your tooth—an abscess forms due to the surrounding gums and bone.
The periodontal infection starts in the tissues and bones that support your teeth. Periodontal abscesses are common among adults and people with gum disease.
Who Can Suffer Abscessed Teeth?
You are more likely to develop abscessed teeth when you:
Smoke. When you smoke, you are about twice as likely to develop abscesses as people who do not smoke.
Have a Dry Mouth. Do you know that bacteria survive well in low amounts of saliva? So, you can develop an abscess if you have a dry mouth.
- Have Poor Oral Hygiene. When you regularly floss, brush, or have dental cleanings, you reduce the chances of having bacteria in your mouth. So, poor oral hygiene increases the chances of suffering a dental abscess.
- Have Weak Immune System. Medications and diseases can lower your immune system, making it challenging to fight germs and bacteria. So, if you have a weak immune system, you can suffer from an abscessed tooth.
Causes of Tooth Abscess
Anything that develops an opening for bacteria to penetrate your mouth or surrounding tissues can attract tooth abscesses. The following are the common causes of tooth abscesses:
The cavity is the destruction of your teeth’ hard surface. It can happen when bacteria break down drinks and food particles, generating acids that fight your enamel.
Trauma in your teeth can cause injury to your pulp even when you do not have cracks in your teeth. The damage increases the potential risk of developing an injury.
Periodontal disease is an inflammation and infection of the tissues surrounding your teeth. As gum disease progresses, bacteria penetrate deeper tissues and form abscesses.
Cracked, Chipped, or Broken Teeth
Bacteria can access any opening in your tooth. So, it becomes easy for the bacteria to form abscesses and spread them to other teeth and gums.
What are the Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth?
Sometimes, the surface around your tooth hurts, but not every time. When it happens, it is a throbbing, sharp pain, especially when you press on the tooth. The pain might even spread along your jaw and the side of your face where you are affected. The following are the common signs that your tooth is abscessed:
One of the main symptoms of an abscessed tooth is toothache, although sometimes you might have an abscess without pain. The pain may be too much when chewing or exposed to cold or hot foods. Also, there might be redness or a throbbing sensation in the affected area. It would help to visit your dentist after experiencing toothaches for several days. After visiting the dentist, the dental expert can find and treat the abscess.
When you leave an infection untreated, it can lead to a fever. An elevated body temperature means your white blood cells are battling microbes. When you have a low-grade fever, you can tolerate it, but you also want to visit your dentist.
Alternatively, it could be a sign of danger when the fever rises. So, if you have a fever, seek medical attention as soon as possible because the infection can spread into the brain or neck and develop into sepsis. Also, complications like meningitis can develop, requiring extensive recovery.
Red Swollen Gums
One of the main signs of abscessed teeth is red, swollen gums. The swelling is usually the initial phase of developing a sore, which is a visible sign of an abscessed tooth and could also be a sign your tooth is filled with pus. Besides the redness, the gum may be sensitive and painful.
When you try to brush your teeth, they may bleed. You may notice the redness if it is irritated. You might have a tooth abscess when you see tooth pain and the development of sores.
When you sense foul-smelling liquid or a bad taste in your mouth, this could be a sign of an abscessed tooth. The chances are that you have also seen other signs, like swelling gums and redness. When you notice this symptom, you want to visit your dentist immediately.
Although accidentally swallowing the pus from the burst abscess might not be harmful, developing the sore might be concerning, and your dentist may prescribe antibiotics to handle the infection before it spreads more.
Swollen Lymph Nodes
Lymph is a clear fluid that circulates through the lymphatic system. The work of the lymph node is to filter the liquid, remove the toxins, and push them out through the gland into the skin. Swollen lymph glands occur when the fluid contains heavy toxins. When a sore or abscess ruptures, it releases pus and infects the bloodstream.
So, when the lymph nodes try to clear the discharge, they may swell. The ruptured abscess may overwhelm the nodes, causing them to swell and become sensitive when touched. When you notice swelling under your jaw, armpit, or on the sides of your neck, your tooth abscess might have ruptured.
Sensitivity to Cold or Hot Temperatures
When you suddenly have tooth pain while drinking a hot beverage or eating ice cream, this could be a sign of weak teeth or a dental abscess. Because decay has affected the dentin of your tooth, sensitivity may arise.
Bad Odor When Chewing with that Tooth
Abscesses may form a pimple-like bump on your gums. When you try to press it and notice a specific liquid coming out, you have an abscessed tooth. Note that the liquid is pus. You should visit the emergency room if you have trouble swallowing or breathing. There is a possibility that the infection has already spread to other body parts.
How Do Dentists Diagnose Dental Abscesses?
An abscessed tooth cannot go away on its own. If you notice any signs of a dental abscess, you want to visit your dentist immediately. It is imperative to treat it since there is a great chance for the infection to spread to other body parts, like your neck and head.
The condition can spread quickly, especially if your immune system is weak and you have health conditions like HIV and AIDS. Certain medications, like specific cancer treatments, can make it difficult for your body to fight infections.
For your dentist to examine you and find out whether you have an abscessed tooth, they will probably do any of the following:
- Tap your affected tooth. The tooth will hurt when the dentist touches it, and you have a dental abscess.
- Take an X-ray. An X-ray can help determine whether you have a dental abscess. Also, the X-ray will show whether the infection has spread.
If the dentist fails to diagnose the dental abscess, they will more likely send you to an endodontist. The endodontist is a trained expert working with dental abscesses. They will inform you about your dental abscess and recommend the best treatment.
After your dentist examines you and finds out you have an abscessed tooth, they can use several options to treat you. These treatment options include:
Open and Drain the Abscess
Your dentist can open and dry the abscess to relieve symptoms. The procedure is known as incision and drainage. During the dental procedure, the dentist administers a local anesthetic. The dentist cuts the affected surface and drains the accumulating fluid away. The dentist then flushes the affected site with saline.
Note that this dental procedure does not provide a permanent solution. So, you must undergo other methods to resolve the abscess issues permanently. After the drainage procedure, your dentist will recommend you practice home care measures until they perform additional surgery.
For example, flushing the surface with salt water daily can be soothing. Also, sleeping with your head in an elevated position can be beneficial. You should also avoid sugary drinks and foods, as well as acidic foods. Avoid eating foods that are very cold or hot.
If you visit your dentist early, they can treat your dental abscess when it is not advanced. A root canal can be a great option to save your tooth without needing to extract it. Before the dentist performs the root canal procedure, they will order you to complete an x-ray. Also, they will examine you and determine the most effective method to save your tooth.
A root canal is a great option to remove the pus from your tooth's root. After removing the abscess, the dentist fills the area and seals it to prevent infections. If you have an abscess on the molar teeth, the dentist may recommend you place a cap on the tooth to strengthen it. Although a dentist can perform this procedure well, endodontists are the most commonly considered specialists in root canal procedures.
You might experience some pain during this procedure. So, the dentist will more likely prescribe painkillers as you recover. You want to avoid chewing on the surface of the root canal until you recover. Ensure you also follow the recommended flossing and brushing of your teeth. Afterward, the dentist can take X-rays to monitor your progress.
Pull the Affected Tooth
Sometimes you can visit the dentist when the dental abscess is too advanced to be saved. If this is your situation, the dentist will pull the Affected tooth. It will be a complete resolution to your problem. The dental procedure to remove the affected tooth is done at the dentist's office using local anesthesia.
After the dentist administers the local anesthesia, they grasp the tooth using a particular device before twisting it until it is extracted. After extracting the tooth, the dentist may cut the gum off the affected surface and drain the remaining fluid or pus.
The dentist will pack the site with gauze and may prescribe pain relievers for a few days. During the recovery period at home, you want to eat a soft diet and brush your teeth as usual. Ensure you plan a recovery follow-up with your dentist to monitor your progress.
Antibiotics and Medication
If the dental abscess has already advanced and spread outside your mouth, your dentist may recommend antibiotics and medication. Dental experts sometimes prescribe antibiotics if you have dental abscesses or chronic tooth issues that compromise your immune system. Antibiotics are essential in preventing the spread of infections.
The common antibiotics include erythromycin, penicillin, metronidazole, ampicillin, and amoxicillin. Also, the dentist may recommend pain relievers. Ibuprofen is a standard pain reliever that your dentist can recommend. You may also take over-the-counter acetaminophen or ibuprofen.
If your dental abscess is recurring or severe, your dental expert can recommend oral surgery. Though your dentist can perform oral surgery, oral surgeons handle many oral surgeries. The oral surgery procedure is most recommended if you have a periapical abscess. Note that the periapical abscess begins in the soft pulp of your tooth. In oral surgery, the dentist removes the affected tissue.
This dental procedure can also be recommended if a periodontal abscess starts at the jaw and affects your gums. The dental expert removes the affected area and reshapes the gum tissues. The dentist can perform the surgery at their office.
The dental procedure begins with the dentist administering local anesthesia and light sedation. You want to avoid drinking or eating eight hours before the dental practice. You should also have someone take you home after the procedure.
Essential signs include oxygen saturation, heart rate, and blood pressure, which the surgeon must monitor when performing the procedure. After the oral surgery, your dentist can prescribe painkillers and plan follow-up appointments.
Many factors can increase your chances of suffering from a dental abscess. These factors include:
Poor Dental Care and Habits
When you do not adequately care for your gums and teeth, like by brushing and flossing at least twice a day, you can increase your chances of developing dental issues. These problems include tooth abscesses, gum diseases, tooth decay, and other mouth complications.
A Diet High in Sugars
Frequently drinking and eating foods rich in sugar, like sodas and sweets, can contribute to dental cavities and lead to tooth abscesses.
When you have a dry mouth, you increase the chances of tooth decay. A dry mouth is usually a side effect of a specific medication or an issue like aging.
Contact a Dental Expert Near Me
Since dental abscesses can damage your oral tissues and spread to other body parts when left untreated, you want to visit your dentist immediately if you notice any symptoms. At South Coast Dentistry, we are ready to help you treat dental abscesses and maintain oral health. If you seek to examine and treat your dental abscess in Aliso Viejo, CA, we are here for you. Contact us today at 949-274-9086 and schedule your appointment with our dentists.