A dental abscess is a pocket of pus that is caused by a bacterial infection. It can occur in different regions of the tooth for different reasons and is common in people who practice poor oral hygiene. In addition to the infection being caused by poor oral hygiene, it can also be caused by an injury or prior dental work.
Why a dental abscess can be dangerous
A dental abscess usually does not go away without treatment. Even though the abscess can rupture on its own, which decreases the pain the patient has, it still needs to be treated by a dentist. If the abscess does not drain on its own, the infection may spread to the jaw and to other areas of the head and neck. Patients with untreated dental abscesses can even develop sepsis, which is a life-threatening infection that spreads throughout the body. If a patient has a weakened immune system and does not get the dental abscess treated, their risk of a spreading infection increases even more.
What are the symptoms of a dental abscess?
The symptoms of a dental abscess include fever, swelling of the face, difficulty breathing, vomiting and difficulty swallowing. People who have any of these symptoms or any other signs of a dental abscess are advised to see a dentist immediately. If they are unable to see the dentist immediately, they should go to an emergency dentist to get treatment.
What are the risk factors associated with a dental abscess?
People who do not take care of their teeth and gums by not brushing and flossing regularly are at a high risk of developing a dental abscess because not brushing teeth puts them at risk of cavities, gum disease and tooth decay. People who consume a lot of sugar have a high chance of developing cavities, which can eventually turn into a dental abscess. Also, having a dry mouth increases one’s chances of having tooth decay because their mouth’s inability to produce enough saliva to keep the mouth moist leads to a buildup of bacteria in the mouth, which can lead to decay.
How do I prevent a dental abscess?
To avoid having a dental abscess, patients should brush the teeth at least twice a day and floss regularly. Also, drinking a lot of water and eating healthy foods can prevent a dental abscess. Patients should go to the dentist for regular checkups and use fluoride mouthwash as well.
How is a dental abscess treated?
Some of the ways dentists treat a dental abscess include:
- Draining the abscess: this involves cutting into the abscess to let the pus drain out, then washing the area with saltwater
- A root canal: a dentist can perform a root canal to get rid of the infection and save the tooth by drilling into the tooth and removing the diseased pulp and draining the abscess
- Tooth extraction: if the dentist cannot save the tooth, they will extract it and drain the abscess to get rid of the infection
- Medication: a dentist can prescribe antibiotics to fight the infection, especially if the patient has a weakened immune system
A dental abscess can be very painful if left untreated and can lead to other health problems. If you have a dental abscess, schedule an appointment with your dentist to get immediate treatment.
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