Many people do not think of the dentist when they have a medical emergency. There are some issues however, that require you to go to the dentist first, should you be suffering an emergency. One such occasion where you need to see the dentist is due to having a dental abscess.
Dental abscesses need to be taken very seriously because they can lead to other problems if they are not treated properly. A dental abscess is usually a result of a bacterial infection. This type of infection can cause moderate to severe pain in your mouth and jaw. This pain and infection, if not treated quickly, can spread to your ears and neck.
Depending on the severity of your pain and the size of your abscess, you will need to speak with your dentist immediately and advise them of the situation. They will be able to advise you of what you need to do for your emergency and book your appointment for you. Many times, you will be able to see the dentist that day as emergency procedures are taken very seriously.
How can I tell if there is an abscess growing?
There are many kinds of abscess that you can have, depending on the location of it on your body. If you have a dental abscess, it will be located somewhere in your mouth. There are 3 kinds of dental abscesses:
- Periapical- these occur at the tip of the root of your tooth. This can be caused by an untreated cavity or injury
- Periodontal- these occur in your gums, located next to the root of your tooth. These can also spread to other areas, such as the surrounding tissue and even into your bone
- Gingival- thes occur on the gums
There are ways to tell if you have an abscess growing which you should keep an eye on and take note of at the first sign of discomfort. Many times you will have sudden pain in your mouth, most times near your tooth or in parts of your gums. Abscess will have pockets of pus form around the affected area that can drain into your mouth.
At times, you will have a bad taste in your mouth along with pain. There are times though, when an abscess can form and you will not have any pain. While there can be obvious first indicators of something happening, there are other signs and symptoms to look out for, even if you do not have pain, such as:
- Pain in your mouth mouth or jaw when chewing or biting
- Swollen gums and tooth sensitivity
- Bad breath
- Bad and foul taste in your mouth
- Swollen and tender lymph nodes in your neck and around jaw
- Face redness and swelling
- The pain gets worse as you lay down
You will notice if the abscess ruptures and starts to drain into your mouth because you will have an awful taste in your mouth. This can lead to an even worse infection. It is important to see your dentist right away if this happens so that they can make sure that it is treated and make sure the infection does not spread to other parts of your body.
What happens if I wait too long with an abscess?
If you wait too long with an abscess, the infection can spread to other areas of your body. If untreated, it can lead to life threatening complications and in rare cases, death. If your abscess ruptures and you do not get it taken care of, because it is an infection, it can then lead to sepsis. Sepsis can be life threatening if not treated correctly or on time.
Other issues that an untreated abscess can lead to, which can be very severe, can include:
- Brain abscess- a collection of pus can form in the brain
- Osteomyelitis- an infection in the bone tissue
- Endocarditis- your hearts inner lining becoming inflamed
- Necrotizing fasciitis- this severe infection leads to the death of soft tissue in your body
Some things to look out for to know if you have waited too long to get your abscess treated are being unable to breath properly and having difficulty swallowing. In these cases, you must go to the hospital and it may have progressed too far for your dentist.
What does treatment for abscess look like?
At the first sign of an abscess you dentist will bring you in for emergency treatment. They will then assess how far along your abscess is and what the proper treatment will be. In many cases, should it be caught in the early stages, the treatment for an abscess will be less invasive. Some treatments for abscess are:
- Drainage- the dentist will make a small incision in the gums to allow for the draining of the abscess. This is a temporary measure and there will often be follow ups needed to ensure that there is no further infections
- Root canal- the infection is removed from inside the tooth, the pulp of the tooth. The tooth is cleaned carefully and then filled and covered
- Tooth extraction- this is a more severe treatment. This will happen when your dentist is unable to save the tooth and to get rid of the infection, the tooth will need to be fully removed because it cannot be saved through a root canal
- Antibiotics- This usually be part of another treatment. Many times, in order to control the infection, your dentist will prescribe some form of antibiotics which will help to kill the bacteria. Depending on your own sensitivity, you could be given antibiotics orally or through an IV.
One of the best ways to prevent an abscess is to keep your oral health in check and have regular visits to your dentist. If you are concerned that you might have an abscess or the signs of one beginning, speak to our dentist at Rockwood Dental today and they will be happy to assess you and answer your questions today.