Some things just don’t get better on their own – in fact, they get a whole lot worse. An abscessed tooth is one of these. The infection can spread to other areas of your body doing untold damage and making you very ill indeed.
But what is an abscess? It is a pocket that is filled with pus that either appears beneath a tooth or in the bone beside a tooth. It’s caused by either untreated tooth decay, gum disease or a cracked tooth that you failed to notice. The outside of a tooth is covered with tough enamel, but beneath that lies the vulnerable pulp. If this gets infected, you can get an abscess, and the abscess can, in turn, infect other areas.
Symptoms of an Abscess
It’s quite difficult to ignore most dental abscesses. The pus builds up causing pressure and pain, and the immune response causes inflammation, redness, and swelling. You might notice that you have swollen glands or lymph nodes and you will probably feel feverish and unwell.
In very severe cases, you might even have trouble with breathing and swallowing. In this instance, you should treat the abscess as a medical emergency and get to a dentist, or even the hospital emergency room, right away.
When the abscess breaks through and releases pus, you will have a bad taste in your mouth, or you might notice a pimple-like spot that oozes pus.
However, there are abscesses that constantly drain into your body and which don’t give you any oral symptoms to speak of. They are no less serious. A dentist is likely to pick up the problem during your regular dental checkup, so that’s just one more reason not to skip them.
Dental Abscess Treatment
The dentist may need to give you a course of antibiotics to take before your abscess can be treated. Be aware that you will still have an abscess after taking the medication, and you still need to have it dealt with.
If it’s possible to save the tooth, the dentist will recommend a root canal treatment. He or she will clean out the inside of the affected tooth. These go all the way into the gum. Then, the cleaned-out tooth will be filled and sealed.
However, it is not always possible to save the tooth, and this case, your dentist will extract it. In particularly bad cases, you may even need surgery to drain the abscess.
If You Think You May Have a Dental Abscess, Get Treatment
It’s impossible to overemphasize the importance of getting proper treatment for an abscessed tooth. We are not exaggerating when we say that a dental abscess can kill. Fortunately, most people go for treatment before things get quite that bad.
If you are experiencing any of the symptoms associated with an abscessed tooth, even if it is only a dull aching sensation, it’s best to listen to your body, realize that something isn’t right, and make a dental appointment as a matter of urgency.