Symptoms and Treatments of a Dental Abscess

Symptoms and Treatments of a Dental Abscess

A dental abscess occurs when there is an infection in a tooth or the gum. When the immune system detects an infection, it sends white blood cells to fight it. As these warriors die off, they accumulate into what we know as pus.

An abscess is the build-up of pus in an enclosed space. It is essentially a pimple but one that is not near the surface of the skin but buried. A dental abscess is this pus built up in a tooth, inside the gum, or jawbone. These abscesses can be painful and put you at risk for other more serious medical problems such as a blood infection.

How Do Dental Abscesses Happen?

The mouth is full of bacteria. It is at the root of most dental problems. An abscess happens when there is a break in the surface of a tooth or tissue that allows bacteria to enter. For example, you might have a cavity or hole in tooth enamel. Bacteria enter the tooth through that break in its protective surface.

The bacteria can then eat its way through the dentin, a sublayer under the enamel, and, eventually, move into the pulp or core of the tooth. The body sends the white blood cells to fight this growing threat, so pus starts to build up in the tooth’s center, forming an abscess.

The same process can happen in other dental structures. For instance, there might be a break in the surface of the gum. The bacteria enter and then burrow down, causing an abscess to form deep in the tissue.

How Dangerous Are Dental Abscesses?

Any infection is potentially serious because it will continue to spread. For example, your mouth is a gateway to your bloodstream. If bacteria works its way deep enough, it can enter the blood, and the infection spreads to other organs, most often the heart.

The infection can also push its way upward, entering the ear canal and the sinus cavities and breakthrough into the brain. An infection in the heart or the brain is a medical emergency and often deadly.

How Do Dentists Treat Abscesses?

The real danger is the pressure that builds up in the tissue from pus. It breaks down the surrounding tissue, allowing the infection to spread. That pressure is also what causes the pain.

The dentist will relieve the pressure by draining the abscess. If the abscess is in the root of a tooth, it is necessary to remove the tissue there and clean out the chamber. This is what dentists call a root canal. Draining an abscess allows the area to heal.

In most cases, the dentist will provide an antibiotic, too. Antibiotics are medications that help fight infection.

How to Prevent Dental Abscesses?

Good oral hygiene can help prevent abscesses. That means brushing your teeth correctly at least twice a day, flossing once daily, and scheduling regular cleanings with your dentists every 6 months.

Fluoridated drinking water and dental treatments help fortify the enamel of teeth to keep them from breaking down and allowing infection. Also, seeing the dentist regularly for professional teeth cleaning and a check-up will help. The dentist can fill any cavities before they become a serious problem.

Make an Appointment

If you think you have a dental abscess, you must get treatment. Find your local Ideal Dental office and schedule an appointment today.