Tooth Abscess’ | Best Treatment and Pain Relief
If you are experiencing tooth pain, gum swelling or sensitivity around your mouth, it could be a sign of a tooth abscess caused by a bacterial infection. Here’s how to identify and treat a tooth abscess.
What is a Tooth Abscess?
A tooth abscess is a pocket of pus that forms on or around a tooth. Tooth abscesses can form in different places including at the root of the tooth, in a periodontal pocket between the gum and tooth, and on the gum itself.
During a tooth infection, bacteria enters the tooth or gums and the body reacts by sending white blood cells to fight the infection. This mixture of white blood cells, bacteria and dead tissue forms pus, which can fill up the cavity and cause pain, swelling and sensitivity. This abscess is a symptom of the overall infection.
How do I know if I have an abscess?
Recognising the symptoms of a tooth abscess early on is important. A tooth infection may be hard to spot but you might recognise some of the symptoms. If you have a dental abscess you might suffer from:
- Severe lingering toothache
- Pain in the ear, jaw, or neck
- High levels of pain when lying down
- Sensitivity to pressure while chewing
- Tender lymph nodes under the jaw or in the neck
- Swelling and sensitivity around a tooth or gums
- Bad breath and a bad taste in the mouth
- Sensitivity to hot and/or cold temperatures
- Fever and feeling sick
- Trouble with opening your mouth, swallowing, or sleeping.
What causes a tooth abscess?
Dental infections are usually the result of poor dental habits, including:
- Tooth decay: If you have a cavity, bacteria can get in through holes in your teeth and cause an infection.
- Gum disease (gingivitis): Left untreated, gingivitis can create a pocket between the tooth and gum where bacteria accumulate.
- Dental injuries or prior dental work: Bacteria can enter a tooth through any cracks or fractures. If you have old dental work, like a loose or cracked filling, you could be at risk of infection.
- Impacted wisdom teeth: Partially erupted wisdom teeth are often hard to clean. They can trap bacteria which can lead to infections.
- A high sugar diet: Eating a lot of sugar promotes bacterial growth as sugar combines with saliva and bacteria in the mouth and attacks tooth enamel. This can lead to cavities.
- Smoking: Tobacco use weakens the immune system and makes you more susceptible to infections, especially in the mouth.
- Dry mouth: Reduced saliva flow contributes to a higher chance of a dental infection.
What should I do if I have a tooth abscess or infection?
A dental abscess or infection won’t go away on its own as it needs to be drained and treated by a dentist. If you think you have an infection, book an appointment with a dentist as soon as you can. While you are waiting, for an appointment the following actions can help dull the pain:
Ibuprofen: Over-the-counter pain relief, like Ibuprofen, helps reduce pain and swelling.
Clove oil: Clove oil contains natural anaesthetic and antibacterial properties to help reduce pain.
Rinse with saltwater: Gargling with a saltwater solution helps remove bacteria and can provide some short-term relief.
If your symptoms and pain levels are severe, book an emergency appointment with your dentist or, visit your nearest A&E.
What can I expect at my dental appointment?
When you arrive for a dental appointment for a suspected infection, your dentist will ask you questions about the pain and any potential underlying causes or changes in your dental routine.
They will also perform a thorough exam, which usually includes an X-ray to assess the severity of the infection. They will then propose a range of treatments depending on where the infection is located and how bad it is. Solutions for a tooth infection include antibiotics, a root canal, or tooth extraction, although extractions are usually only performed as a worst-case scenario.
Can I prevent a tooth infection from happening?
Yes. You can prevent an infection from leading to a tooth abscess by developing an oral hygiene routine. This should include brushing for two minutes morning and night, flossing every day, reducing the amount of sugar you eat, and visiting your dentist regularly.
Regular dental visits are important as it allows your dentist to monitor any changes to your dental health. Old dental work, chipped or flaking fillings, cracks in your teeth and cavities are common ways that bacteria can get into a tooth and cause an infection.
If you are experiencing dental pain or swelling, book an appointment with Gentle Dental. Our dentists will make sure you are comfortable during the checkup and will talk you through any procedures for treating a tooth abscess or infection. Book an appointment now.