Bacteria inside your mouth can cause a lot of dental problems and one of them is a tooth abscess. This is a very painful and serious issue. It leads to a painful swelling filled with pus and needs to be treated immediately which makes it a serious dental emergency. The abscess is a natural defense mechanism and its role is to create a barrier around the infection so that it doesn’t spread in other places.
The cause of an abscess is most commonly an advanced tooth decay that originated from an untreated dental cavity. This allows bacteria to enter the tooth and infects it and the areas surrounding it. In more serious cases, the infection can spread to the bones of the jaw supporting the tooth and the infected tooth has to be extracted.
Abscesses can be formed in many different parts of your body. Speaking of mouth abscesses, they classify in 3 main types, depending on the location in which they’re formed:
The gingival abscess (also known as gum abscess) forms on the surface of the gum tissue. Generally, it’s caused by gum damage such as from penetration by a toothpick or by food entering the gum. If caught in an early stage, it’s relatively easy to treat, however if left untreated, it gets worse and can progress to periodontal abscess.
This type of abscess occurs when the infection is deeper into the gum pockets. The abscess spreads into the jaw bone since there is no place else for the pus to drain.
A periapical abscess is usually caused by an infection that has spread from a tooth to the surrounding areas. Most commonly the cause of this is tooth decay deep inside the tooth. When the tooth decay has damaged the enamel and dentin, it spreads to the nerves and tooth pulp.
Tooth abscesses are formed very quickly and suddenly and are usually very painful. Yet, in some rare cases, the abscesses can be painless but you will still notice a swelling on the gum.
Among the symptoms you may notice are:
Since the pain from a dental abscess can be excruciating, you may need to seek emergency treatment. Even if the pain is bearable, consider visiting a dentist as soon as possible to avoid further complications. Dental abscesses never go away on their own and instead, even spread to other parts of your mouth and body. If left untreated, they can create more complications and become chronic. In these cases, the infection can last for a few months or even years.
The first thing your dentist will do is to drain the pus that has built up in the infected area. You will immediately feel some relief as the tension will not be so strong. Then they will proceed with removing the source of the infection. This depends on the type of abscess you have. It may be necessary to take an x-ray to see if the infection has spread and that will help your dentist decide what treatment you will need.
It may be possible to drain the pus from the infection of a relatively small gum abscess by applying gentle pressure on it, just as you would do with a pimple. This can relieve the pain and make you feel better for a while but even so, you must see a dentist who can treat the issue properly.
Until you visit a dentist, you can try taking pain reliefs like ibuprofen or paracetamol. After your visit, your dentist could prescribe you antibiotics too. Another thing that could help you deal with the pain is rinsing your mouth wilt warm salt water which eliminates bacteria. Also, avoid hot or cold foods or drinks and flossing the infected area.
Pain in your mouth is always a sign that there is some problem. Unfortunately, you can’t wait it out as these problems don’t go away on their own. You should seek professional help as soon as possible. Not only is tooth pain one of worst feelings but you also want to treat it and not let it spread and cause more concerns for you. The sooner you take care of the issue, the sooner you will feel back to normal, so don’t hesitate or postpone going to your dentist!