Possible Signs Of A Tooth Abscess
A dental abscess can be extremely painful. Our Streatham dental team offers advice on what signs to look for.
Anyone who has ever suffered from dental pain will know how all consuming it can be.
Although even common problems such as tooth decay can be painful, one of the worst types of pain is that which is caused by a tooth abscess. These often occur quite widely, for example in children who don’t clean their teeth as well as they should do.
It isn’t just children though that can suffer from this infection of course. Adults can find themselves in this situation, particularly if they don’t clean their teeth well enough, and have also avoided seeing one of the dentists at our Confidental Clinic practice on a regular basis, for their six monthly dental examination.
What is a tooth abscess?
A tooth abscess forms in the pulp area of the tooth. This usually shouldn’t happen if you have healthy teeth, as strong tooth enamel helps to prevent bacteria from entering the layer beneath it. However, cracks, chips and decay can all compromise a tooth and allow the bacteria to start on its journey towards the pulp area in the inner part of the tooth.
Before reaching its final destination, bacteria will travel through the dentin layer. This is a porous area of the tooth, and no amount of home cleaning can prevent the bacteria from travelling further when it reaches this stage, which is better known as tooth decay. This can only be treated by having a dentist remove the decayed material and filling the cavity, or perhaps using a crown in more extensive cases. Patients should always remember that tooth decay will not improve of its own accord and will simply become worse if you fail to have it treated.
Finally, the bacteria will arrive at the pulp area of the tooth. This is where the nerves and blood vessels are located, and, as an abscess starts to form, the patient is likely to experience an increasing amount of discomfort, and often severe pain.
Interestingly, an abscess is actually a good thing for our general well being despite the significant pain it can cause, forming in order to prevent the bacteria from reaching other organs of the body. As these bacteria can potentially be dangerous if left to advance, to prevent further infection, it is important to have your abscess treated by one of your local Streatham dentists as soon as you can.
Signs to look for
If the abscess isn’t already causing pain so that you are aware of there being a problem, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t one present. An abscess can create a number of different symptoms, so if you or your child are experiencing any of these, you should see the dentist as soon as possible to have the problem investigated.
Some possible symptoms caused by an abscess may include:
- A painful tooth when chewing food
- Inflammation near to a tooth. This is likely to appear red and feel quite sore
- A high body temperature
- Pus leaking from around the tooth area
- If the tooth starts to darken in colour
- A nasty taste in the mouth
- Swelling of the gums or other areas of the facial region
These may not be the only signs, so if you have a problem with your teeth that you can’t easily identify, please do get it checked out as soon as you possibly can.
Can it be treated?
The one thing that you shouldn’t do with a tooth abscess is ignore it. Your dentist will be able to advise the best course of treatment if an abscess is detected. There are three main treatments.
Antibiotics – Although this will not ‘cure’ the abscess, your dentist may prescribe a short course of antibiotics if the infection has started to spread beyond the teeth and gums.
Root canal surgery – We have covered this in more detail previously, but essentially involves the removal of the infected pulp material, cleaning the hollow canals and then filling them with a special filling. This procedure is often completed with the fitting of a dental crown, or cap.
Extraction – This is usually only carried out where the infection has left the tooth irreparable with a root canal treatment and is a last resort.
With good oral care at home and regular examinations at the Confidental Clinic, there is every chance that you will be able to avoid having a tooth abscess. If you do detect any suspicious symptoms though, do make sure to have a professional check.
If you or your child are in severe pain, please don’t delay and call our Streatham practice as soon as you can to ask for an emergency appointment. We will attempt to see you as soon as we possibly can.
Whether for an emergency or routine dental appointment, you can reach us on 020 8674 2052.