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Dental Abscess

A dental abscess is a collection of pus around the root of an infected tooth. This dental problem can affect children and adults; if you have it, it will not go without treatment. Treatment from an endodontist or dentist is necessary to save the tooth.

If an abscess is left untreated, the infection can spread to your jaw, neck, head and other body parts.

What can cause dental abscesses?

The teeth have a hard exterior, but inside the tooth is the pulp which ho blood vessels, connective tissue and nerves. In some cases, the pulp becomes infected, often resulting from:

Without treatment, the infection can result in the death of the pulp and an abscess. Two common types of abscesses affect people. They include:

  • A periapical abscess that forms at the tip of the tooth’s root
  • A periodontal abscess that affects the bone close to the tooth

More than one abscess can develop, and the abscess can also move through the bone and develop in several spots, but all from one tooth.

An abscess is more likely to occur if you do not brush your teeth at least two times a day and your diet is high in sugar. Sugary drinks and foods help bacteria growth which may lead to cavities and other dental problems.

What are the symptoms of a dental abscess?

Sometimes, the area around the affected tooth may hurt. If pain occurs, it may show as a sharp, throbbing pain, especially when you apply pressure on the tooth. The infection may also spread to other parts of the face and your jaw.

Other symptoms may include:

  • Fever
  • Gum redness
  • Swelling
  • Trouble swallowing or breathing
  • Bad taste
  • A bad odour when chewing with the tooth
  • Puffy gums
  • Swollen lymph nodes
  • Sensitivity to cold or hot temperatures

An abscess can sometimes cause a pimple-like bump on the gums. If you press the pimple and it oozes out liquid, you are likely to have an abscessed tooth.

If your face is swollen and you have a fever, trouble swallowing or breathing, go to the emergency room to prevent the infection from spreading to other body parts.

Diagnosis of dental abscess

An abscessed tooth cannot heal on its own. Ensure you visit your dentist immediately if you have any signs of an abscessed tooth. Treating the infection immediately is important to prevent its spread to other parts of the neck or head.

This is more likely if you have a weak immune system due to a health condition like HIV or AIDS. Some medications, including certain cancer treatment, often makes fighting infections more difficult for your body.

To diagnose a dental abscess, the dentist may:

  • Tap on the teeth – if there is an abscess, you will feel pain when the dentist touches the affected tooth
  • Take an X-ray – the X-ray will help the dentist confirm you have an abscess and if it has affected parts of your mouth

If your dentists can’t diagnose the dental abscess, they will refer you to an endodontist who is an expert for abscessed teeth. The endodontist can confirm if you have an abscess and the right treatment.

Treatment for dental abscess

The aim is to get rid of the infection, so the endodontist will recommend the following:

  • Antibiotics

If the infection spreads past the abscess site to your jaw or other body parts, antibiotics will be necessary, but they will not cure the abscess.

  • Extraction

Extraction will be necessary if the dental professional cannot save the tooth.

  • Root canal

A root canal is common when treating an abscess and the best option to save the tooth. The endodontist will drill into the tooth, clean the pulp and root canals that go into the gum, and then fill and seal the empty space.

You may get a crown or filling to restore the tooth, which will function and look like other teeth.

  • Surgery

Surgery may be necessary to drain a periodontal abscess. If the abscess ruptures, the pain will subside, but treatment from an endodontist or dentist is still necessary.

How can I prevent dental abscesses?

The following simple steps will help keep your gums and teeth healthy.

  • Attend regular teeth cleanings and dental check-ups
  • Brush your teeth two times daily for at least two minutes using a fluoride toothpaste
  • Floss every day to keep the hard-to-reach areas between your gums and teeth clean
  • Schedule a dental appointment immediately if you have a cracked or loose tooth
  • Reduce your sugary drinks and foods intake, such as sodas and sweets that may lead to cavities
  • Reduce your snack consumption between meals.

If you experience symptoms of a dental abscess, visit McKennell Dental Practice at 21 Churton Street, London SW1V 2LY, to see our experienced dentist. You can also call 020 7834 8802 to book an appointment before the infection spreads to other parts of your mouth and body.

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