Tooth Abscess: Symptoms and Treatments
You are watching your favorite show on Netflix after supper. While you were eating you noticed that when you ate hard bread you had some discomfort. As the evening progressed you got a headache and felt a bit lethargic. Work tomorrow, best to go to bed early. As you lie down the discomfort intensifies. You experience a throbbing pain beating to the rhythm of your heart. So you take two Tylenol and try to get to sleep. You wake up in the morning bleary-eyed and exhausted. When you look in the mirror your face is distorted; the gum is red, shiny, and swollen over a tooth with a large silver filling. Now, what do you do?
Call your dentist immediately. You have a dental abscess that must be treated as soon as possible. Delaying treatment can lead to serious health problems.
What is an Abscess and how is it Caused?
An abscess is a pocket of pus caused by a bacterial infection. The abscess is like a grape filled with infection. The outer lining is composed of epithelial cells. The abscess must be drained of the pus and the lining must be removed. Antibiotics are given to control infection. Antibiotics by themselves will help relieve symptoms but are not a cure for the abscess
There are two types of abscess:
1. Periapical abscess
This is found at the tip of the roots of the affected teeth. It is caused by decay, old dental work, and trauma and can be treated usually with root canal therapy and in severe cases with extraction.
2. Periodontal abscess
This is found on the side of the tooth in the gum. It is caused by poor oral hygiene, diets high in sugar, bruxism (grinding of our teeth when we are asleep), medical conditions such as diabetes, and medications i.e.phenobarbital. A periodontal abscess can be treated with cleanings, scalings, curettage, and in severe cases extraction.
Symptoms of an Abscess
- Severe, persistent throbbing pain that can radiate to the jaw and ear
- Sensitivity to hot and cold
- Sensitivity to pressure and tapping
- Pain upon lying down
- Swelling in the face and check
- Tender, swollen lymph nodes under the jaw in your neck
- Bad taste or smell coming from the mouth
- Difficulty breathing or swallowing
Etiology of disease (Complications)
Decay can lead to an invasion of the pulp, this is called pulpitis; untreated this can lead to an abscess-which, in turn, can lead to cellulitis which can lead to sepsis, which is a life-threatening condition.
If you suspect an abscess seek care IMMEDIATELY.
Causes of Tooth Abscesses
- Poor oral hygiene
- Diets high in sugar
- Dry mouth (xerostomia)
- Pre-existing medical conditions such as diabetes
- Not visiting the dentist twice a year for checkups and radiographs
Prevention of Tooth Abscesses
1. Oral home care including brushing mouth 2x daily for two minutes with a small soft toothbrush, flossing 1x daily before bedtime, decreasing sugar in your diet, using a fluoride toothpaste and mouthwash (alcohol-free), and wearing a mouth guard if grinding or playing contact sports.
2. Regular checkups and cleanings at the dental office.
Make an Appointment with 209 NYC Dental
209 NYC Dental is the oldest continuing practice in NYC. We were founded in 1887; with that comes a legacy of exquisite work, optimum patient care, and the building of long personal relationships. We are now an ultra-modern, multi-specialty office that is open seven days a week. Emergencies are prioritized. If you are not feeling well do not hesitate to contact us. We are ready to help.