A tooth abscess is a more severe form of bacterial infection that can get formed in different regions of the tooth. Basically, it can be of two types- periodontal and periapical. The periapical abscesses form at the tip of the root mostly due to an untreated dental cavity. In some cases, it can also result from an injury or previous dental work. The primary symptom can be an intense pain in the tooth that increases with time. The pain can also spread to the neck and the jaw. Other symptoms include red, swollen gums, loose teeth, sensitivity towards hot and cold food, and bad breath.
As the infection progresses, the patient can also develop a fever and a feeling of uneasiness. There can also be difficulty in opening the mouth or even swallowing. Do keep in mind that if left untreated for long, the infection can turn severe and spread to other parts of the body. They can also turn systemic, and affect other tissues and organs in the body. This is why it is necessary to visit the dentist at the first sign of any tooth infection.
The first step of the treatment involves pain management through medication. Antibiotics can also be prescribed to prevent the spread of the infection. However, an abscess will not go away without proper dental treatment. Generally, the abscess needs to be drained by removing the pus. This is done after the use of a local anesthetic. In most cases, a root canal treatment is done to clear way the bacterial infection from the root pulp. But in some cases, the tooth needs to be pulled out depending on the progress of the infection.
Right Choice Dental Care provides the complete range of treatments for dental abscesses to provide pain-free solutions in the best possible manner.
What causes a tooth infection?
A periapical tooth abscess occurs when bacteria invade the dental pulp — the innermost part of the tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue.
Bacteria enter through either a dental cavity or a chip or crack in the tooth and spread all the way down to the root. The bacterial infection can cause swelling and inflammation at the tip of the root.
These factors may increase your risk of a tooth abscess:
- Poor dental hygiene. Not taking proper care of your teeth and gums — such as not brushing your teeth twice a day and not flossing — can increase your risk of tooth decay, gum disease, tooth abscess, and other dental and mouth complications.
- A diet high in sugar. Frequently eating and drinking foods rich in sugar, such as sweets and sodas, can contribute to dental cavities and turn into a tooth abscess.
- Dry mouth. Having a dry mouth can increase your risk of tooth decay. Dry mouth is often due to the side effect of certain medications or aging issues.
Tooth infection treatment
The goal of treatment is to get rid of the infection. To accomplish this, your dentist may:
Open up (incise) and drain the abscess. The dentist will make a small cut into the abscess, allowing the pus to drain out, and then wash the area with salt water (saline). Occasionally, a small rubber drain is placed to keep the area open for drainage while the swelling decreases.
- Perform a root canal. This can help eliminate the infection and save your tooth. To do this, your dentist drills down into your tooth, removes the diseased central tissue (pulp) and drains the abscess. He or she then fills and seals the tooth's pulp chamber and root canals. The tooth may be capped with a crown to make it stronger, especially if this is a back tooth. If you care for your restored tooth properly, it can last a lifetime.
- Pull the affected tooth. If the affected tooth can't be saved, your dentist will pull (extract) the tooth and drain the abscess to get rid of the infection.
- Prescribe antibiotics. If the infection is limited to the abscessed area, you may not need antibiotics. But if the infection has spread to nearby teeth, your jaw or other areas, your dentist will likely prescribe antibiotics to stop it from spreading further. He or she may also recommend antibiotics if you have a weakened immune system.
What should I do for an infected tooth (home remedies)?
Symptoms of tooth infection
Symptoms of an infected tooth can include:
- throbbing tooth pain
- throbbing pain in the jawbone, ear or neck (typically on the same side as the tooth pain)
- pain that worsens when you lie down
- sensitivity to pressure in the mouth
- sensitivity to hot or cold foods and drinks
- cheek swelling
- tender or swollen lymph nodes in the neck
- bad breath
- unpleasant taste in mouth
Can a tooth infection go away on its own?
These infections don’t go away on their own, so it’s important to see your dentist if you think you have one. If it’s not treated, it can spread to your jaw or other areas of your head or neck.
These are some things you can do to ease your symptoms:
- Take over-the-counter pain relievers like ibuprofen, aspirin, or naproxen for the discomfort
- Try to chew on the side of your mouth away from the tooth
- When you brush your teeth, use a toothbrush with soft bristles
What can happen if a tooth infection is left untreated?
A tooth abscess won't go away without treatment. If the abscess ruptures, the pain may decrease significantly — but you still need dental treatment. If the abscess doesn't drain, the infection may spread to your jaw and to other areas of your head and neck. You might even develop sepsis — a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout your body.
If you have a weakened immune system and you leave a tooth abscess untreated, your risk of a spreading infection increases even more.
What are the symptoms of a tooth infection spreading?
If an infected tooth is not treated, the infection could spread elsewhere in your body, which is potentially life-threatening. Signs and symptoms that the infection in the tooth has spread include:
- You feel unwell
- You run a fever
- skin flushing
- Your face swells
- swelling that makes it difficult to fully open your mouth
- swelling that impedes swallowing
- swelling that impedes breathing
- You become dehydrated
- reduction in frequency of urination
- darker urine
- Your heart rate increases
- rapid pulse rate
- Your breathing rate increases
- over 25 breaths per minute
- You experience stomach pain
How to prevent tooth infection or Dental Abscess?
Avoiding tooth decay is essential to preventing a tooth abscess. Take good care of your teeth to avoid tooth decay:
- Use fluoridated drinking water.
- Brush your teeth at least twice a day with a fluoride toothpaste.
- Use dental floss or an interdental cleaner to clean between your teeth on a daily basis.
- Replace your toothbrush every three or four months, or whenever the bristles are frayed.
- Eat healthy food, limiting sugary items and between-meal snacks.
- Visit your dentist for regular checkups and professional cleanings.
- Consider using an antiseptic or a fluoride mouth rinse to add an extra layer of protection against tooth decay.