Do I have a Tooth Abscess?

A woman experiences toothache and swelling as the result of a tooth abscess.

Do I have a Tooth Abscess?

Bateria is the cause of many dental ailments, from Gingivitis to tooth decay, but one of the lesser known conditions it causes is a tooth abscess.

What is a Tooth Abscess?

This condition occurs when a bacterial infection creates a pocket of pus at the base of your teeth. There are two types of abscesses, which occur in different regions of the tooth and for different reasons.

A periapical tooth abscess forms at the tip of the tooth root and is the result of an untreated dental cavity, an injury or previous dental work. A periodontal tooth abscess forms in the gum tissue next to the tooth root, and is the result of severe gum disease or periodontal disease.

Symptoms that Identify a Tooth Abscess

Patients who experience the following symptoms should make arrangements to see their dentist immediately:

  • Severe toothache that radiates to the jawbone, neck or ear
  • Sudden sensitivity to hot and cold temperatures or the pressures of biting or chewing
  • A fever
  • Swelling in the face or cheek
  • Tender and swollen lymph nodes in the jaw or neck
  • Foul tasting or smelling, salty liquid in your mouth and pain relief (if the abscess bursts)

What to expect at the Dentist’s Office

If your abscess has not already burst, your dentist will drain the fluid from the abscess. Unfortunately, once an abscess has formed, the tooth is most likely already lost to the infection and will have to be removed. In some cases, the tooth can be saved through root canal treatment.

What if you can not make it to the Dentist?

If you have some of the advanced symptoms of a tooth abscess, such as a fever or swelling in the face, and you are not able to see the dentist, you should go to an emergency room. Other symptoms, such as difficulty breathing or swallowing are indications that the infection has spread to other parts of the face and even the body, and the patient should go straight to an emergency room. If left untreated, the patient can develop sepsis, which is an infection that can spread through the whole body and is life-threatening.

Are you More at Risk of Developing a Tooth Abscess?

Individuals who do not maintain a regular dental hygiene routine, such as brushing and flossing twice a day, increase their chances of harbouring dangerous bacteria in their mouths that can lead to conditions such as a tooth abscess. Bacteria thrive off of foods that are high in sugar, therefore, a high sugar diet can contribute to the formation of dental cavities and disease that can turn into an abscess.

How to Prevent a Tooth Abscess

A general rule to avoid dental health conditions is to maintain your dental health through regularly visiting the dentist, brushing your teeth twice a day, and using dental floss at least once a day. However there are a few extra precautions you can take to avoid dental problems:

  • It is a good idea to replace your toothbrush every three months or when the bristles become frayed.
  • Eating healthier food and sticking to a low sugar diet will do wonders for your teeth and body.
  • Using an antiseptic or fluoride mouthwash is a great way to add another layer of protection against bacteria to your teeth.

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