If you think you might have a dental abscess, it is crucial to contact an experienced dental professional as soon as possible to receive prompt treatment. This type of infection can indicate serious oral health issues. Dr. John Paul Gallardo, a prominent Miami dentist, specializes in treating the symptoms and complications of periodontal disease, including abscesses.
What is a Dental Abscess?
If there is bacteria build-up inside the mouth, it can initiate the formation of an abscess infection. A dental abscess is a pocket full of pus that is painful and causes gum and tooth damage if not treated quickly. Issues such as cavities and tooth decay can contribute to periodontal disease and abscesses if left untreated.
Abscesses typically indicate very serious dental issues. It is best to contact a dentist and/or an oral surgeon who can help clear the infection right away. Once the infection is under control, any additional or contributing oral health issues must be addressed as well.
What causes a tooth abscess?
There are several issues that can lead to a tooth abscess. They include:
- Untreated dental cavities
- High-sugar diet
- Poor oral hygiene
- Injury from previous dental surgery
- Bacteria build-up
- Tooth decay
- Gum disease
- Parched, or dry mouth
A tooth abscess forms beneath the tooth and often develops because the teeth have decayed sufficiently to allow bacteria to enter the pulp in the center of the tooth. It then spreads to the base of the tooth’s root. A patient is more likely to have a tooth abscess than a gum abscess.
Types of abscesses
Although all dental abscesses are infected pockets in the mouth containing pus, there are 3 types of abscesses, classified based on their location:
Gingival abscess—Gingival abscesses form in the gums and can be extremely painful.
Periapical abscess—If the tip of the tooth’s root develops an abscess, it is called a periapical abscess.
Periodontal abscess—An abscess that forms on the gum beside a tooth’s root is called a periodontal abscess. It can also spread to bones and tissues in its surrounding area inside the mouth.
Dental professionals suggest scheduling an appointment immediately if you notice the formation of any type of dental abscess.
What are the symptoms of an abscess?
Whether it forms on the tooth or the gum, pain is the primary symptom of an abscess. If not treated properly, the pain can get worse over time.
Pain from an abscess can start to spread towards the ear or the jaw and down the neck. It usually occurs on the same side of the head as the abscess. If the patient lies down, the pain can worsen.
Dental abscess pain can make it difficult to bite and chew food. Since it is an infection under the tongue’s soft tissues, the pain can make it hard to swallow food or even open the mouth.
This condition is called Ludwig’s Angina. The gums can become red and swollen. The teeth can also get more sensitive over time.
One of the other major symptoms of an abscess is bad breath. It happens if the abscess bursts and releases pus and bacterial fluid into the mouth. It can lead to an odor inside the mouth and leave a bad taste.
Patients can also feel feverish, and may even find it challenging to breathe if the infection causes swollen lymph nodes.
What can make it worse?
If patients delay abscess infection treatment, bacteria can spread to major organs and cause various physical complications. A patient with severe swelling, for example, might require surgery to open the windpipe.
An untreated abscess can also lead to osteomyelitis, which is an infection of the jaw bone. A dentist might need to pull out the teeth affected by the infection so that it does not spread further. In such scenarios, the patient can opt for an implant to replace the lost tooth.
Risks if left untreated
An abscess needs proper medical treatment, even if it ruptures. Upon rupture, the pain recedes. Failing to drain the abscess can allow the infection to reach the jaws, the neck, and the head. It can also lead to, which affects the entire body. The infection spreads quicker for immunocompromised patients.
Untreated abscess infections can worsen if the patient has poor dental hygiene, does not drink enough water, and eats a lot of sugar.
Abscess infections are treatable, especially in the early stages. Usually, the treatment involves removing the infection’s source, destroying the bacteria, and restoring the tooth or the gum as needed.
The abscess treatment protocol may include a few options for optimal infection removal. Your dentist will recommend the best course of treatment for your situation and may give you home remedies to help you control any residual symptoms.
Initially, the surgeon will make a tiny cut in the abscess to drain it. They will then use saline water to wash the area.
If the patient’s tooth’s root has been infected the surgeon will need to perform a root canal. They will drill into the affected tooth to get rid of the infected central tissue (pulp) and replace it with a synthetic material. They will then drain the abscess and seal the chamber to complete the root canal. However, if the infected tooth is beyond saving, the surgeon might extract it and drain the abscess to remove the infection.
If the abscess is in the gum, the dentist then might perform scaling and root planing to thoroughly clean the teeth and gums and reduce the size of the periodontal pockets.
Some patients’ abscess infections do not spread beyond the teeth or gums. But if they do, dentists might prescribe an antibiotic to suppress the spread. Post-surgery at-home remedies include rinsing the mouth with saltwater and taking prescribed or over-the-counter pain relievers.
What To Do if a Dental Abscess Burst On its Own?
If you have a dental abscess, it’s usually best to leave it alone. However, sometimes the pus can’t be contained and pops on its own. What you want to do is clean out the area around your tooth as thoroughly as possible. Mix about 1/2 teaspoon of salt into a glass of warm water and rinse your mouth for 2-3 minutes. Repeat the process until the area is clean and you’re able to see your dentist before it worsens.
An Ounce of Prevention
Patients are advised to follow preventive measures to reduce the risk of another infection after their dental abscess treatment. These include regular brushing and flossing, using fluoride toothpaste, and regular visits to the dentist.
Once a patient identifies their symptoms, they should consult a periodontist who can evaluate their gum health and remove the infection. Additional non-surgical treatments are necessary only for severe cases. They can help reduce the periodontal pockets and reduce the chances of further issues.
Abscess treatment helps to improve the patient’s overall oral health. For patients living in Miami who need help with a dental infection, Dr. John Paul Gallardo is available to treat the symptoms and effects of a dental abscess. Call (305) 501-4467 today to schedule an appointment today.