An abscess is a pocket of pus that forms as a result of a bacterial infection. There are three types of infections:
- A periapical abscess forms at the tip of the root of the tooth
- A periodontal abscess is located on the gum tissue next to the tooth root but can spread to surrounding tissue
- A gingival abscess is found only on the gums
What causes tooth infection?
The primary cause of a tooth infection is bacteria infiltrating your teeth or gums via decay, trauma, or poor oral hygiene. However, the exact cause of a tooth infection depends on the location of the abscess.
For periapical abscesses, bacteria typically enter the soft pulp at the center of the tooth through a cavity. This causes intense pain as the pulp contains blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerve endings.
A periodontal abscess is usually caused by severe gum disease. However, injuries or ulcers on the gum tissue can quickly become infected and create an abscess.
A gingival abscess can be the result of food or debris becoming caught between the tooth and the gum and irritating the soft tissue.
Symptoms of tooth infection
Although a tooth infection often begins with a dull toothache, there are more symptoms to be aware of, including:
- Throbbing pain in the neck, jaw or ear
- Pain that increases when you lay down
- Increased sensitivity to hot, cold or sweet substances
- Sensitivity to pressure when chewing or brushing
- Swollen or tender lymph nodes
- Swollen cheeks
- Fever and sweating
- Foul breath or an unpleasant taste in your mouth
If you experience any of these symptoms along with a toothache, call your emergency dentist in Southampton immediately to schedule an appointment for treatment. If left untreated, the infection can spread to the rest of your body, and you may experience additional symptoms which can result in hospitalization such as:
- Laboured breathing
- Increased heart rate
- Vomiting and diarrhoea
What are the treatments for tooth infections?
The type and extent of the treatment depend on the severity of the infection. Treatment options include:
- Draining the abscess by making a small incision and removing the pus, then cleaning the area with sterile saline solution
- A root canal treatment to remove the infected pulp
- Removal of the foreign object causing the infection
- Complete tooth extraction if the tooth is too damaged to save
- Oral antibiotics if you have a compromised immune system, severe infection, or you are at high risk of the infection spreading
If you cannot visit your dentist immediately, you can manage the pain with over-the-counter painkillers and anti-inflammatory medication. You can also minimize any swelling with an ice pack and rinse your mouth twice daily with warm salt water to prevent the infection from worsening.
How to prevent tooth infections?
Poor oral hygiene increases your risk of developing a tooth infection, so to prevent an abscess from forming you should:
- Brush twice per day to remove food and built-up plaque
- Floss gently to remove debris from between teeth taking care not to snap the floss and cause your gums to bleed
- Reduce your sugar consumption
- Increase the number of fibrous fruits and vegetables in your diet
- Quit smoking and using other tobacco products.
- Visit your dentist regularly for cleanings and exams
Prevent tooth infection with good oral hygiene and call your dentist as soon as possible if you experience any symptoms.
Looking for a 100% all-natural liquid tooth oil and mouth rinse? Check out OraMD Original Strength and OraMD Extra Strength. Subscribe to our Trusted Health Club newsletter for more information about natural living tips, natural health, oral health and skincare. If you are looking for more health resources make sure to check out the Trusted Health Resources list.
Dr. Slawomir Stobiecki is the principal dentist at Highfield Dental & Facial Clinic - a private & cosmetic dentist in Southampton offering affordable, yet high quality dental treatments for a complete smile makeover. For more details visit our website.
Founder Ray Spotts has a passion for all things natural and has made a life study of nature as it relates to health and well-being. Ray became a forerunner bringing products to market that are extraordinarily effective and free from potentially harmful chemicals and additives. For this reason Ray formed Trusted Health Products, a company you can trust for clean, effective, and healthy products. Ray is an organic gardener, likes fishing, hiking, and teaching and mentoring people to start new businesses. You can get his book for free, “How To Succeed In Business Based On God’s Word,” at www.rayspotts.com.