Tooth abscess? See your emergency dentist

Dentist Blog

Although people often think a dental emergency would involve a broken or knocked-out tooth, there are other types of dental problem that require an emergency visit to the dentist. An abscessed tooth is a serious problem that may require immediate treatment.

What is an abscess?

A tooth abscess is caused by an infection around the bottom of the tooth, which leads to a build-up of pus. It can be caused by tooth decay or by a chipped or broken tooth where a gap in the enamel allows harmful bacteria into the tooth.

What are the symptoms?

An abscess may be extremely painful, which will be enough in itself to send you to an emergency dentist. It may also be accompanied by swelling in the face around the affected area or enlargement of the lymph glands. You may also experience a bad taste in your mouth, and the symptoms may be accompanied by a fever.

Why is it an emergency?

An abscess can be painful enough in itself that it prevents you from sleeping or getting on with your normal life. If left untreated, the infection can spread to other parts of the jaw of the head and neck, and eventually even lead to an abscess in the brain. An untreated tooth abscess can become life-threatening, so if you have the symptoms, you should see a dentist as soon as possible.

What is the treatment?

How your dentist treats the abscess will depend upon how far it has spread and how serious it is. You may be given antibiotics to treat the underlying infection and have the abscess lanced to drain the pus. More serious cases may need root canal treatment, in which the underneath of the tooth is cleaned out and filled and sealed. If the tooth can't be saved, it may have to be removed. By and large, the sooner the abscess is treated, the less severe it will be, and the easier it will be to deal with.

How can it be prevented?

Generally, good oral hygiene will prevent abscesses. Brush and floss twice a day, avoid sugary foods and make sure you get regular dental check-ups.

An abscess is a painful and dangerous problem which should be treated as an emergency. Get in touch with your emergency dentist as soon as you experience the symptoms, and it should not be easy - and relatively pain-free to treat.


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