How do you know if you have a tooth abscess? In this post, we’ll describe what a tooth abscess is and let you know what to do if you have one.
Definition of a Tooth Abscess
A tooth abscess is caused by a bacterial infection. If you have a chipped, cracked, or decayed tooth, bacteria can get inside the deepest part of the tooth. When this happens, the tissues become inflamed and infected. The infection causes a pocket of pus to develop, and this pocket is known as the abscess.
An abscess can occur in different areas. If the abscess forms at the tooth root’s tip, it is called a periapical abscess. If it forms in your gums near the root, it is called a periodontal abscess.
Your dentist will typically use a root canal or oral surgery to remove the infection. In some situations, the tooth cannot be saved. It’s important to check with your dentist to learn about the treatment that’s right for you.
How a Tooth Abscess Develops
These are the main reasons a tooth abscess can occur.
Lack of proper hygiene
If you don’t brush your teeth twice daily and floss regularly, you are at a higher risk of developing a tooth abscess. Even if you take care of your teeth, failing to visit the dentist twice a year for a checkup can increase your risk. If it’s been a while since you had a regular cleaning, call your dentist to schedule an appointment.
A diet high in sugar, acids, and carbohydrates can increase the bacteria levels in your mouth. The more bacteria you have, the higher risk that a bacterial infection can develop in your gums or decayed teeth.
Untreated tooth problems
If your teeth have cavities, cracks, or chips and you put off a dental visit, the bacteria have more time to multiply deep in your tooth. That’s why it’s important to keep regular dentist appointments to ward off serious problems like tooth abscesses.
Signs of a Tooth Abscess
You may have a tooth abscess if you notice any of the following symptoms.
A headache caused by a tooth abscess will be severe and may radiate through your ear, neck, or jaw. You may experience a persistent throbbing pain with a tooth abscess, so it’s important to consult with a dentist if your headache has these unusual characteristics.
An abscessed tooth is extremely sensitive. If you suddenly have problems biting or chewing due to pain, or if high or low temperatures in food or drink start to bother you, you need to call a dentist right away. Sensitivity may be due to other issues as well, but it’s important for your dentist to rule out a serious problem like an abscess as soon as possible.
If your face, jaw, or neck begins to swell without warning, it could be a sign that the infection in an abscess is growing. Swollen lymph nodes in your neck can indicate a higher number of white blood cells that are attempting to fight off the infection in your tooth. Call your dentist right away for any unexplained swelling.
Your body may try to kill off the infection with a fever. If any of the other symptoms occur with fever, contact your dentist right away to learn if a tooth abscess is the source of the problem.
If you notice a nasty smelling and tasting fluid abruptly flooding your mouth, followed by pain relief in your tooth, the abscess may have ruptured. Call your dentist immediately because the open area may be prone to further infection.
Seek Treatment for a Tooth Abscess
A tooth abscess will not go away with home remedies. If a tooth abscess is left untreated, the infection can cause serious health issues as described above. Not only could you lose a tooth, you could experience life-threatening symptoms the longer an abscess goes untreated.
The infection can spread to your bloodstream and circulate through your body, resulting in sepsis. This condition can threaten your life, so it’s crucial to contact a dentist as soon as you suspect that you may have a tooth abscess.
Head to the emergency room if you have any trouble breathing or swallowing. The tooth abscess may have caused enough swelling to shut off your air passageways. It’s critical to seek immediate medical treatment if you notice these symptoms that can be related to an abscess.
Concerned you may have a tooth abscess? Consult with your dentist today to learn more.