An abscess is an infection that occurs around the root of a tooth or in the space between the teeth and gums. It is a serious condition that can damage tissue and surrounding teeth, and if not treated the infection could possibly spread to other parts of the body. Abscesses can form very quickly, often within 24 to 48 hours of when the infection starts. There are two main types of abscesses:
- A gum, or periodontal abscess is usually caused by an infection in the small space, or pocket, between the teeth and gums. This may happen when food particles get trapped between the gum and tooth. In advanced cases of periodontal disease, bacteria can build up under the surface of the gums.
- A tooth-related abscess, called a periapical abscess (located at the tooth root), occurs within the tooth itself when the nerve is dying.
Common symptoms of a dental abscess include:
- Throbbing pain, especially when you chew.
- Red, swollen gums.
- A bad, salty taste in your mouth.
- Swelling in your jaw or face.
- A fever.
- A red, swollen bump in your mouth. It may have blood or pus oozing from it.
- A tooth that is very tender or sore to the touch.
To reduce pain and swelling, you can put an ice pack wrapped in a towel against your cheek. You can also try over-the-counter pain medicine, including acetaminophen (such as Tylenol) or ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin). Read and follow all instruction on the label. If you smoke or use any kind of tobacco, try not to do so until the tooth is healing.
An abscessed tooth needs treatment right away. Your dentist may:
- Give you antibiotics to kill the bacteria causing the infection.
- Make a hole in the tooth to drain the infection and relieve the pain.
- Do a root canal to remove the infected pulp in the tooth.
- Remove the tooth. This may be needed if you don’t want a root canal, or if you have one and it doesn’t work.
Call Urgent Dental Care at 314-423-0000 for an appointment.