A dental abscess is an infection in the mouth which starts its journey from small cavity in the tooth. An abscess may also form due to trauma to a tooth but in either case, it often leads to a formation of a swelling inside or outside of mouth.
What you may be experiencing:
- Prolonged sharp, severe pains on one side of your face which may radiate to your eyes, temple or around the neck. You may not be able to pin point which tooth or where the pain is coming from.
- A dull constant pain from one side of your mouth, or from one or more teeth. making it difficult to eat, and can be worse at night keeping you awake.
- Severe pain from one specific tooth. You may be unable to bite on the tooth, the tooth may feel raised, or slightly mobile.
- Internal or external swelling around the gum associated with one or several teeth, or of face. This swelling may or may not be associated with any pain or rise in temperature.
- A very small swelling or spot on the gum above or below the tooth. This may or may not be painful, and you may have an unusual taste in the mouth.
How does it happen:
The bacteria from a small spot or an area of decay left untreated in the mouth can progress further in the tooth. When the decay is only in enamel of the tooth, it is usually pain free but you may experience sharp short pains to sweet food. It is easily spotted and treated by your dentist during routine examinations.
When the decay advances in the tooth to the dentine, the internal layers on the tooth, it may still be pain free or you may experience a more intense short lasting pains to hot or cold food. This decay is often visible on routine x-rays taken by your dentist and would require a filling.
If the decay is allowed to progress further getting close to the nerve in the centre of the tooth, the pains experienced may become prolonged, spontaneous, waking you up at night. This is the nerve of your tooth signalling for help but if you ignore the signs and take painkillers (which may relieve the pain) and leave the cavity untreated, the decay will reach and the bacteria will kill the nerve of the tooth.
The nerve is a live organ and once it dies, the infection forms and tracts its way to down the roots affecting the bone the bone the surrounds and supports the tooth and the destruction continues. This is the reason as to why the tooth is very tender to touch and bite on.
The infection can tract between the spaces in between facial tissues and lead to facial swelling.
Abscesses can form because of trauma and accidents to the tooth causing nerve death. Heavily treated and restored teeth can also develop infections. This is due cumulative irritable effects of multiple decay, drilling, fillings, over a long period of time the nerve can die resulting in an abscess. The symptoms experienced, and treatments are the same.
How can we help:
We understand that at this stage and with the intensity of the pain, you may be anxious. But it is paramount that you contact us for help, as leaving dental infections untreated can be fatal.
Immediate treatments of an abscess include:
- A course of antibiotics for swelling or raised temperature
- Releasing the pressure built, by accessing the canals inside the tooth and draining the infection though the tooth. This is in affect stage one of root canal therapy.
- Removal of the tooth
- After the initial pain relief, it is important for you to return for a full examination appointment to establish the cause of the decay. Start with a preventative phase to ensure new decays do not occur. Prevention would include, educating you in good hygiene maintenance, regular examinations and hygiene sessions, as well as diet advice. Taking necessary x-rays will allow your dentist to treat any other decayed teeth and completing the root canal therapy on the affected tooth.