An abscessed tooth may not sound like such a big deal, but the fact is that an abscess is an infection that, if left untreated, can be life-threatening. An abscessed tooth is an infection that occurs in the pulp, which is the soft tissue found in the center where the blood vessels and nerves are in a tooth. Abscessed teeth can cause pus to form in surrounding tissue. Tooth abscesses are often caused by cavities or other tooth decay or chips, especially if they’re are not cared for properly. It’s vital that anyone who has a tooth abscess seek medical attention right away, as dental abscesses can lead to death if they go untreated. Following is information from top dentists about the symptoms, causes, treatments, and prevention of an abscessed tooth.
Causes of an abscessed tooth
Dental abscesses are infections that can spread to other areas of the mouth. They are typically caused by poor oral hygiene habits. Tooth abscesses that are not properly cared for can develop pus that gathers at the site of the infection until the pressure at the site causes the abscess to rupture. When bacteria invade a tooth’s pulp, this can lead to infection. Tooth abscesses can be caused by cavities, cracked teeth, or chipped teeth, and usually occur as a result of lack of brushing and/or flossing on a regular basis. They can also occur as a result of eating too many processed or sugary foods, especially if food particles are not properly eliminated through a good oral hygiene routine.
Symptoms of an abscessed tooth
The symptoms of an abscessed tooth typically are obvious to the sufferer. Because it is an infection, an abscessed tooth will cause pain that is often severe. Swelling and redness typically also occur at the site of the infection, and these can spread to other areas of the mouth besides the abscessed tooth. Pus may develop, and pus drainage will occur when the abscess ruptures.
Treatments for an abscessed tooth
For patients who have experienced an abscessed tooth that has just ruptured, it’s important to rinse the area with warm water in order to clean the resulting bacteria from the mouth. It’s also important to visit your family dentist if you have an abscessed tooth in order to have it drained properly of pus and infection, as an abscess that is not correctly treated can result in subsequent infections and can even become life-threatening. At your dental office, your dentist may use an x-ray as a diagnostic tool during examination. Depending on the circumstances of the infection, your dentist may need to extract the tooth or perform a root canal. It’s likely that antibiotics will be prescribed in order to kill the infection. Additionally, anti-inflammatory medications and/or pain medications may be prescribed for a period. A tooth abscess can lead to serious, life-threatening complications due to bacteria being released into the blood stream. It’s vital that anyone suffering from a tooth abscess understands that this is a medical emergency known as ‘septicemia,’ which can lead to severe health complications in the heart, brain, and other organs. In these cases, it’s vital to seek immediate medical attention at your local emergency room.
Preventing an abscessed tooth
Abscessed teeth typically are easily avoided. As they are infections that often occur from cavities or chipped or cracked teeth, a good oral hygiene routine is the first line of defense against dental abscesses. First, brush your teeth at least twice daily with a fluoride tooth paste in order to remove food particles and bacteria that lead to plaque. It’s also important to floss at least once a day in order to remove food particles from in between teeth that brushing can’t reach. As many abscesses occur in cracks and in between teeth in areas that toothbrushes can’t easily get to, flossing is a vital part of every good and proper dental health routine. Additionally, scheduling twice-yearly visits with your family dentist is also necessary in order to remain informed of any issues that you can’t see but your dentist can. Finally, if you believe you may have an infected tooth, it’s important that you schedule an examination with a top dentist in your area as soon as possible. If you’re experiencing severe pain and/or pus from an abscessed tooth, head to your local emergency room, as the infection can cause bacteria to enter your bloodstream, resulting in a potentially life-threatening condition.