Many of us take our oral health very seriously, but even so, dental emergencies can arise at any time. And dental abscesses are no exception. Here, we’ll address symptoms of an abscessed tooth, what a tooth abscess is, and how immediate treatment (like a root canal or tooth extraction) could save your dental health.

At Rio Rancho Smiles, our dental team believes that patients with an abscess who seek treatment immediately have a better chance of saving their teeth and gums. So, if you think that you have a dental abscess, then contact our office as soon as possible at 505-994-9693 or online.

What is a tooth abscess?

Simply put, a dental abscess is a tooth infection that results in a pus-filled pocket–or gingival abscess–around the affected tooth. While a dental infection is never pleasant, abscessed teeth are incredibly painful and won’t go away without antibiotic therapy.

Are there different kinds of abscesses?

Yes, there are two common kinds of abscesses:

  • Periapical abscess: an infection that forms at the tip of the tooth root below the gum line.
  • Periodontal abscess: an infection that spreads and affects the bone tissue around the infected tooth.

What causes a tooth abscess?

Our teeth have a very hard outer surface, but the inside of our teeth contain delicate blood vessels, connective tissue, and nerves. When the inside of our teeth–known as pulp–is exposed, then the tooth’s root is vulnerable to bacterial infection. Exposed roots of teeth may result for many reasons, such as:

  • Tooth decay, like a deep cavity
  • A prolonged or untreated dental cavity
  • A cracked tooth
  • Gum disease
  • Poor dental hygiene
  • A weakened immune system

What are the symptoms of a tooth abscess?

There are many symptoms of an abscessed tooth. However, while patients will experience varying degrees of dental abscess symptoms, here are several common signs and symptoms of a tooth infection:

  • Throbbing pain on either the upper or lower jaw
  • A severe toothache or localized, severe pain
  • Sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures
  • A weird taste in the mouth, such as a bad taste or bitter taste
  • An actively draining sore in the mouth
  • Swollen gums
  • A fever
  • Swollen and tender lymph nodes
  • Difficulty swallowing or breathing

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, then go to an emergency room or see your dentist immediately. If left untreated, tooth infections can spread to the blood and result in life-threatening sepsis.

What do I do if an abscess ruptures?

An abscess is a serious infection, so if it bursts, then do not swallow the contents that drain from the pocket (it’s pus!). Instead, use warm saltwater rinses as an antiseptic and for pain relief.

Next, schedule an appointment with a dentist as soon as possible. Letting a dentist determine the nature of the infection will help get rid of the infection quickly before it spreads to the surrounding tissue.

What are my treatment options?

An abscessed tooth diagnosed is well on the way to an abscessed tooth treated. But, unfortunately, restoring an infected tooth requires drastic treatment, such as:

  • Letting a medical or dental professional drain the abscess
  • Antibiotic therapy to stop the infection from spreading
  • A root canal on the infected tooth
  • In severe cases, extracting the affected tooth

A tooth infection will not go away on its own. If the infection has spread, then it will result in a more complicated issue, such as a periodontal abscess. This will negatively impact your gum tissue, bone tissue, and other teeth. So, dental treatment is unavoidable (and necessary!).

How do I avoid getting a tooth infection?

Nobody wants to get a painful root canal. That’s why the American Dental Association recommends visiting a dental office at least twice yearly for regular dental checkups and cleanings. However, here are some other ways to limit your risk of a tooth infection:

  • Brush your teeth with a soft toothbrush at least twice a day
  • Floss once daily
  • Limit sugary foods and beverages

Ultimately, practicing good oral hygiene is the best way to avoid harmful infections, painful root canal treatment, and unwanted tooth removal.

Be proactive–schedule a checkup and cleaning today!

Regular checkups and cleanings are your first defense against oral disease and dysfunction. That’s why our attentive team at Rio Rancho Smiles wants to see you at least every 6 months. If you’re due for a checkup and cleaning, then schedule your appointment today by calling 505-994-9693 or booking online.