Many dental problems can have painful symptoms, but a dental abscess may be among the worst. When dental abscesses occur, the root of the tooth or the area between the gum and tooth becomes inflamed and creates a pocket of infection, leading to significant pressure and pain. Find out how to identify a dental abscess and when to seek help from a Webster dentist.
What is a Dental Abscess?
An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms within body tissues and usually occurs because of an infection in the local area.1 A dental abscess is an abscess that affects the tooth or the area around it.
Teeth have several layers. The outside is the enamel, which covers the softer dentin. These two layers protect the most sensitive area of the tooth, the pulp, which contains the nerves and blood vessels.
There are two primary types of dental abscesses:
- Periapical: These abscesses typically affect the tip of the root in the tooth and are more common among children and young adults.2
- Periodontal: These abscesses originate in the alveolar bone and periodontium and more commonly affect older adults.3
Because the pulp runs from the exposed part of the tooth to the root into the jawbone, an abscess in the pulp can impact the bone itself. Abscesses can also start in the gum surrounding the tooth.
Symptoms of a Dental Abscess
The symptoms of a dental abscess include:
- Persistent, throbbing tooth pain that can radiate to the neck, ear, or jawbone
- Sensitivity to heat and cold
- Sensitivity to pressure and touch
- Swelling in the cheek or face
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Tender, swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- If the abscess ruptured, a sudden foul taste or salty fluid and pain relief
In severe cases, a dental abscess may have the following symptoms:
- Difficulty speaking
- Cellulitis – a bacterial infection affecting the soft tissues which may lead to difficulty breathing and can be a life-threatening condition
How to Identify a Dental Abscess With the Help of a Webster Dentist
In many cases, a person with a dental abscess feels unwell and may suffer from severe pain that doesn’t respond to over-the-counter, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs like ibuprofen and acetaminophen.
Causes of a Dental Abscess
A bacterial infection causes dental abscesses. The tooth or the gum around the tooth can become damaged, allowing bacteria in the mouth to enter the area and cause infection. The most common cause of these infections is poor dental hygiene, such as inadequate brushing and flossing, which can lead to cavities, gingivitis, and periodontitis.
When to Seek Help
You should consider a dental abscess an emergency. People with dental abscesses should seek emergency dental care, but a hospital emergency room can help if none is available. Doctors don’t handle dental procedures, but they can provide antibiotics and painkillers to address the infection and pain until a dental appointment is available.
What to Expect from Your Dental Appointment
If you suspect an abscess, it’s essential to visit a dentist as soon as possible. The dental appointment will include an exam of the suspected abscess, which may involve putting pressure on the tooth. The appointment may also include an x-ray of the affected tooth to determine the size and location of the abscess.
Typically, dental abscesses are drained. Depending on the type and location of the abscess, this may be done by opening the tooth or through an incision in the gum under a local anesthetic. You may get a prescription for antibiotics to address the infection.
After the abscess is drained and the infection has cleared, the tooth needs to be treated. Your dentist may need to do a root canal treatment on the tooth or may need to remove the tooth due to severe decay. For periodontal abscesses, the area around the tooth is cleaned thoroughly to prevent the infection from returning and additional periodontal surgery may be required.
Visit Empire Dental Care in Webster
If you suspect a dental abscess and need an emergency Webster dentist, consider visiting Empire Dental Care. Dental abscesses are extremely painful, and the infection can spread, so it’s vital to seek emergency dental care as soon as possible. At Empire Dental Care, we take every measure to ensure you’re as comfortable as possible. Contact us to schedule your appointment! 585-671-1650