Some sufferers describe it as a pain like no other, a throbbing so strong that it makes them want to bang their heads against a wall. Having an abscessed tooth is no picnic.
Individuals who suffer from this painful predicament have an infection at the root of a tooth or located between a tooth and the gum. According to MedicineNet, an abscessed tooth is usually the result of advanced tooth decay. However, other causes can include trauma and gum disease known as gingivitis.
Any of these problems can result in cracks in a tooth’s enamel through which bacteria can enter. They can then cause an infection in the pulp of the tooth that can move into its root and eventually into the bones beneath the unlucky tooth.
Dentists strive to get rid of the patient’s infection, preserve the tooth, and avoid any complications. There are several ways to treat an abscessed tooth.
The goal is to zap the infection by draining the tooth. This is typically accomplished by performing a root canal. This is a surgical procedure also used to take out diseased root tissue once the infection is gone. Typically, the tooth will then need a crown.
Another method is to extract the tooth. Drainage occurs through the socket. For some patients, dentists need to drain the infection by cutting into swollen gum tissue.
WebMD reports that some patients will need treatment with antibiotics prior to undergoing a root canal. They include individuals to have damaged or artificial heart valves or who were born with heart defects. Antibiotics are also appropriate for people who have had bacterial endocarditis, which is an infection of the lining of the heart.
They’re prescribed for patients who are diabetic or who have another disease responsible for an impaired immune system or who have liver disease. Having artificial joints or taking steroids for illnesses such as Crohn’s disease and asthma is an indication that taking antibiotics before surgery is appropriate.
It’s important to start treatment on an abscessed tooth as quickly as possible to make sure a more serious infection like cellulitis doesn’t occur. If an abscess remains untreated too long, bacteria from it can spread to the blood and eventually infect other parts of the body. In some cases, the resulting infection can become life-threatening.
The best way to avoid an abscessed tooth is to practice good oral hygiene and to see a dentist as soon as possible if you experience dental trauma such as a chipped or broken tooth. It’s also important to know the symptoms of an abscessed tooth if something just doesn’t feel right in your mouth. Not all symptoms involve pain.
Among the most common symptoms of a tooth abscess are fever, pain when chewing, and sensitivity of a tooth to hot or cold food or beverages. Also on the list are experiencing a bitter taste in the mouth or foul-smelling breath. Some patients sense a general discomfort or just feel ill somehow. Other signs of an abscess are redness and swelling of the gums, the presence of a swollen area in the jaw, and a sore that’s open and draining on the side of the gum.