A dental abscess, also known as an acute apical periodontitis, is an infection of the soft tissue inside your tooth. The most common cause of this condition is untreated tooth decay or tooth trauma; however, it can also develop due to an infection in your gums that travels through the tissue and into the roots of your teeth. This article will cover everything you need to know about what an abscessed tooth looks like, what causes it, and how you can get rid of it as quickly as possible.
What are the symptoms of a dental abscess?
The most common symptom of an abscessed tooth is swelling or soreness in one of your teeth. The pain usually starts gradually and then intensifies over time, eventually leading to swelling of your gums, cheeks, or face. The gums may appear red and swollen near the affected tooth. In some cases, pus may ooze from your gum. You may feel pain when chewing, opening your mouth wide or biting down on something hard. If you are suffering from a chronic dental infection that has become an abscessed tooth, you’ll also experience fever and chills (sometimes accompanied by nausea). This can indicate serious complications; it’s best to see a dentist right away if you’re feeling unwell after a bout of dental pain.
Will it get worse without treatment?
Yes. In most cases, without treatment, an infection will get worse and spread throughout your mouth. If it’s severe enough, you could lose teeth or even experience pain that radiates to other parts of your body (such as your jaw). You can treat an abscess quickly and easily with antibiotics from a dentist. If you do go to a dentist, he or she will probably drain some of the infected material out of your tooth with a needle so that it can heal properly. Afterward, you’ll probably be prescribed antibiotics that should clear up any infection in three to four days.
But if there are signs that your abscess might be more serious, don’t delay: See a doctor right away—these complications can grow and lead to dangerous infections like meningitis.
The only way for me is surgery!: A common myth about abscesses is that they all need surgery—if yours persists for too long, it’s true, but several studies have shown that doctors still prefer medications over invasive procedures whenever possible. The majority of people who visit doctors because of a sore tooth are sent home with antibiotics; very few have an operation unless their case was particularly complicated or advanced.
How do I know if I need to go to the dentist right away?
If you have any symptoms of infection in your mouth, even if they’re mild, go to your dentist right away. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you have pain in your mouth that won’t go away and/or severe soreness around an old filling or tooth, it’s time to make an appointment. Make sure that you alert your dentist of any relevant medical conditions or diseases (such as diabetes) so he or she can advise you on whether prompt treatment at an emergency center is needed.
If you notice swelling or tenderness in your jaw—especially accompanied by fever, nausea, headache, or feeling very tired—see a doctor immediately. Signs of a dental abscess include: Painful area with pus around teeth (pus may leak from gums when brushing teeth).
This most commonly occurs when germs enter through cracks between teeth or under fillings; damage caused by trauma (e.g., biting down on hard candy); gum disease; cavities beneath remaining roots after root canal therapy). Consider going to an emergency room instead: If you experience nausea and vomiting along with fever and extreme swelling (larger than 2-3 inches in diameter), there could be other complications that require special care.
What causes dental abscesses?
A dental abscess occurs when an infection gets trapped in your tooth. When your mouth becomes infected, it’s usually from bacteria entering through cracks or crevices in your teeth or gums. They then get swallowed into the bloodstream and make their way to other parts of your body. In some cases, they can settle into tissue or bone close to your teeth, which is what creates an abscess. Once in place, they can cause pain and damage cells nearby.
Are there home remedies for a dental abscess?
There are no home remedies for a dental abscess. A person with tooth pain should seek immediate treatment from their dentist or oral surgeon because, without proper care, an infection will continue to grow and damage your jawbone and other surrounding tissues. You may think that you can wait until morning to see your dentist, but if you delay treatment too long you could risk further complications such as spreading of bacteria into surrounding tissue, leakage of pus into other parts of your mouth or even airway blockage. Always take any severe toothache seriously and never try to tough it out. This can lead to unnecessary complications down the road.
Can I take antibiotics myself instead of seeing my dentist or doctor?
Unlike infections that affect other parts of your body, oral infections often happen right under your nose—which means they’re highly visible and easy to diagnose. If you suspect an infection in your mouth, see your dentist or doctor as soon as possible. Dental abscesses usually require treatment with antibiotics and sometimes surgery; if left untreated, they can spread to other areas of your body. It’s best to get evaluated by a professional rather than self-treating with painkillers.