Without proper oral hygiene, the mouth is a perfect breeding ground for bad things to happen. It is dark and moist and when a person doesn’t brush or floss or rinse away food and buildup — bacteria thrives.
Bacteria buildup in the mouth and teeth can lead to a range of conditions, from bad breath to very serious conditions that are considered a dental emergency, like a tooth abscess.
A dental abscess, or tooth abscess, occurs when pus builds up inside the teeth or gums. It most often is the result of a bacterial infection that has accumulated inside the soft pulp of the tooth.
There are 3 types of tooth abscess that can occur:
- Gingival abscess — found in the gum tissue only
- Periodontal abscess— found in the supporting bone tissue structures of the teeth
- Periapical abscess — in the soft pulp of the tooth
The main symptom of a tooth abscess is that a person will be in a lot of pain. The affected area will be sore when biting, drinking hot or cold liquids. Depending on how advanced it is, the spot will simply be throbbing or the pain may travel down the jaw, neck or throughout the ear and head.
Other symptoms of an abscess include:
- an awful taste in the mouth and unusually bad breath
- fever or sweating
- aches throughout the body
- difficulty opening the mouth or swallowing
- trouble sleeping
If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, your body is telling you that something is very wrong and you should check in with your dentist immediately. If it is after hours, you may have to go to the emergency room to get some pain management medication or some antibiotics to prevent the infection from spreading in the interim.
To treat an abscess, an incision will be made in order to drain out the bacteria and pus. Depending on the severity and location of the abscess, a root canal may be needed, especially in the case of a periapical abscess.
In this case, the damaged tissue will be removed from the pulp and a root filling will replace the space to prevent subsequent infections. A root canal means that the dentist will need to drill into the tooth to reach the infected area, then the infection is removed. An antibacterial solution is used to clean out the area and then a crown is usually used to protect the tooth.
The whole process is usually quite difficult for people and results in pain, time lost from work and can be quite expensive from start to finish. So the best thing to do is prevent them in the first place.
Brushing and flossing regularly and rinsing after every meal will help keep your teeth and gums clean. Also going in for regular check-ups and having your dentist inspect the condition of your teeth is very important.
Prevention is always the best approach when it comes to dental issues, and doing everything you can to avoid an abscess is the best way forward.
If you have any questions or suspect you might be living with an abscess or any other emergency dental condition, please reach out to our South Surrey dental office.