What Is a Tooth Abscess and What Do I Do About It?

Categories: Miscellaneous

Emergency Dental CareYou may be experiencing pain in a tooth or surrounding areas, a bad taste in your mouth, facial swelling, or other symptoms we discuss below. They can be caused by a tooth abscess.

What is a tooth abscess? It’s a pocket of liquid that can build up inside your tooth root or gums because of an infection. Bacteria, along with other material, can pool and then press on a nerve—causing pain and leading to more severe problems, such as a spreading infection.

Your tooth abscess can only be fixed with a treatment by your dentist or endodontist, who can drain the liquid and clean up the infection.

How Do I Know I Have a Tooth Abscess?

We’ll only be sure that you have an abscess when we give you an exam here at Creekside Endodontics. But common symptoms include:

  • An intense, unceasing toothache, which might even be felt in your jawbone, ear, or neck.
  • Swollen or tender lymph nodes.
  • Problems swallowing or even breathing.
  • Fever.
  • Swollen cheek or facial tissue.
  • Oral sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures or to biting or chewing.
  • A sudden bad taste and smell—somewhat salty—in your mouth, which can indicate that the abscess is draining into the mouth.

Sometimes, a tooth abscess can feel better for a time if it breaks and drains on its own—but don’t be fooled! The fact that it hurt so much before means you could still have an oral infection and dental damage that should be treated. Otherwise, the infection could threaten your tooth, other teeth, or even your overall health and safety.

These are all possible signs, but it’s very important to get a diagnosis and possible treatment as soon as possible. If you are having problems swallowing or breathing, you may even need an emergency treatment.

How Do You Treat a Tooth Abscess?

The aims of a tooth abscess treatment are first to get rid of the abscess, then to protect your mouth and body from bacterial infection. There are a few treatment options, which we’ll choose depending on the severity of the infection:

  • Drain the Abscess: The abscess is a pocket of liquid, so your dentist will open it and release the pressure and the liquid to relieve swelling. We will keep the area very clean during the process—and we’ll keep you comfortable.
  • Prevent Infection from Spreading: This is a very important step in ensuring your overall health, and there are a couple different methods we will decide between depending on your case.
  • Option 1 | Clean the Tooth with a Root Canal Treatment: This service simply cleans the infected tissue out of the inner chamber of a tooth, ensuring it can’t spread. Afterwards, your dentist will seal the tooth and protect it from further problems.
  • Option 2 | Extract the Tooth: If the tooth has been severely damaged by infection, its walls may be too weak to save. We can then perform a safe extraction.
  • Follow up with Antibiotics: If there are signs that bacteria have infected other teeth, your jaw, or other nearby tissues, we can use antibiotics to stop them. Antibiotics can also protect you if your immune system is low.

During your exam, we’ll find out how much the infection has spread and if it has damaged your tooth. We’ll tell you what treatment options make the most sense before proceeding. And we can always offer you one of our forms of dental sedation to keep you comfortable.

Why Do I Have an Abscess?

Each tooth abscess is different, but they often have similar causes—which can lead to similar methods of prevention that can stop them from returning. Yours may have been caused by:

  • Dental Hygiene Issues: Your flossing or brushing habits might not have been enough to control bacterial buildup.
  • Sugar Intake: Sugary foods and drinks can damage tooth enamel and allow bacteria to enter the tissue inside the tooth.
  • A Dry Mouth: Aging and medications could dry out your mouth, reducing the amount of saliva you have available to fight tooth decay.

This leads logically to simple methods of preventing future abscesses, such as brushing twice a day, flossing once a day, consuming less sugar, possibly using a fluoride mouth rinse, and—of course—getting a dental checkup twice a year.

Questions About a Tooth Abscess? Call Our Creekside Endodontics Office!

If you’re experiencing severe dental pain or any of the other symptoms of a tooth abscess, we encourage you to contact Creekside Endodontics right now. Bacterial infections must be controlled before they spread. Let us help you protect your health—and finances—from worse problems that could develop.