If you have a toothache that goes beyond mild to moderate tooth pain and reaches a level of severe, throbbing pain, it could be a sign of a tooth abscess. A tooth abscess is a pus-filled lesion at the roots of a tooth, and is caused by an infection. The first sign is a throbbing toothache that won’t go away. Treatment at Santa Rosa clinic will likely include draining the abscess if it hasn’t ruptured. Your dentist may also recommend that you take over-the-counter pain relievers, rinse your mouth with warm salt water, and take antibiotics. More severe abscesses may require a root canal to remove infected tissue, and the worst cases require extraction of the tooth.
Why do your teeth pain?
The answer depends on the stimuli. What stimuli? For every symptom, there is a cause. Here are 6 common causes:
Sensitivity to temperature
The dental pain is momentary, but it usually signals a minor problem within the tooth itself. It could be:
- A small area of tooth decay
- A loose filling
- An exposed root due to abrasion or gum recession
Sensitivity after dental treatment
Dental work can also cause dental pain. How? Depending on the problem, fixing it may cause inflammation inside the tooth. The good news is the pain you are feeling only lasts a few days to a few weeks. Decay removal and crown work may take a week or two to settle. In the meantime, you can take over-the-counter pain relievers to manage your discomfort.
Sharp pain when chewing
One of the following problems may be the culprit:
- Loose filling
- Cracked tooth
While a loose filling can be replaced by a dentist, the other causes of dental pain when chewing will need to be addressed by a specialist. They can remove decay, protect the root canal, and seal any spaces or cracks within the tooth.
Lingering pain after eating
Pay very close attention to this symptom, it could mean that your tooth is infected. If tooth decay or damage is left untreated, your tooth can die from the inside out. This needs to be prevented before the pain becomes too severe. The bacteria that build up can develop into a life-threatening abscess. A root canal can remove the dead and dying pulp; saving the tooth.
Dull ache and pressure on the upper teeth
Believe it or not, this kind of dental pain can be sinus-related. Your upper back teeth share the same nerves as your sinus cavity. As a result, that pain can be referred to your teeth and vice versa. However, the other possibility is that you are clenching your jaw and grinding your teeth.
This is a sign of an acute infection. It is imperative that you get this symptom treated as soon as possible. Without treatment, your tooth will die. A dead tooth usually leads to an abscess; a bacterial pocket that forms under the nerve in your tooth. If the infection enters your bloodstream, it can be fatal.
What is a dental abscess?
Our mouths are full of bacteria, which is why it’s important for us to brush, floss, and rinse multiple times daily. When bacteria build up, they can invade your teeth or gums and create what’s known as an abscess, a sac full of pus and bacteria.
What are the most common symptoms of a tooth abscess?
If you’ve never had an infected tooth before, you might be wondering how you’d know if your tooth was infected. Pain is often the most common sign of a tooth infection. Unfortunately, this pain isn’t always confined to the tooth itself. Because our teeth are connected to so many nerves, pain from an infected tooth can extend into the jaw, face, and neck. Talk about discomfort!
Other signs to look for include:
- Tooth sensitivity to heat, cold, and/or pressure
- Tenderness around the tooth
- Swelling of the mouth, jaw, or face
If you have a dental abscess that bursts open on its own, you might taste a strong, salty fluid that could also smell bad. Left untreated, an abscessed tooth can turn into a serious, life-threatening condition.
What causes dental abscess?
Bacteria getting into your teeth or gums leads to a dental abscess. However, the way this happens depends on the type of abscess:
- Periapical abscess.Bacteria enter the pulp within your teeth, usually through a cavity. Pulp refers to the soft, inner part of your tooth. This is made up of nerves, connective tissue, and blood vessels.
- Periodontal abscess.Gum disease usually causes this type, but it can also be the result of an injury.
- Gingival abscess. A foreign body, such as a popcorn hull or toothbrush bristle, gets embedded in your gums.
Self-care tips for pain and abscess
Until you can see your dentist, try these self-care tips for a toothache:
- Rinse your mouth with warm water.
- Use dental floss to remove any food particles or plaque wedged between your teeth.
- Consider taking an over-the-counter (OTC) pain reliever to dull the ache, but don’t place aspirin or another painkiller directly against your gums because it may burn your gum tissue.
- If the toothache is caused by trauma to the tooth, apply a cold compress to the outside of your cheek.
When to visit your dentist
Call your dentist immediately if you have any of the following with a toothache:
- Pain that persists for more than a day or two
- Signs and symptoms of infection, such as swelling, pain when you bite, red gums or a foul-tasting discharge
- Trouble breathing or swallowing
Dental pain and abscess treatment at Santa Rosa clinic
Treatment for an abscessed tooth focuses on clearing up the infection and relieving pain. Depending on your symptoms, your dentist might start with a dental X-ray. This will help them see whether the infection has spread to other areas. Depending on the type and severity of your abscess, treatment options include:
Draining the abscess
Your dentist will make a small cut in the abscess to drain the pus. They’ll follow up by cleaning the area with a saline solution.
A root canal procedure
A root canal involves drilling into the affected tooth to drain the abscess and remove any infected pulp. Next, your dentist will fill and seal the pulp chamber, which holds pulp, and the root canal. They may also cap your tooth with a crown to strengthen it. A crown procedure is usually done during a separate appointment.
If your tooth is too damaged, your dentist might remove it before draining the abscess. Your dentist may pull the tooth if it can’t be saved and then drain the abscess.
If the infection has spread beyond the abscessed area or you have a weakened immune system, your dentist might prescribe oral antibiotics to help clear the infection.
Removal of foreign object
If your abscess is caused by a foreign object in your gums, your dentist will remove it. They’ll finish up by cleaning the area with a saline solution.
If you can’t get in to see your dentist right away, you can take an over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drug, such as ibuprofen (Advil, Motrin) to help with the pain. Rinsing your mouth with warm salt water may also help.
What’s the outlook?
An abscessed tooth should clear up within a few days of treatment. Even if it seems to drain on its own, it’s important to follow up with your dentist to make sure the infection doesn’t spread to another area.
You can reduce your risk of an abscessed tooth by practicing good oral hygiene and having regular dental checkups every six months.
How to Prevent Tooth pain and Abscess
A tooth abscess can get its start as an untreated tooth cavity, so the best way to prevent an abscess is to prevent the cavity in the first place by following a consistent oral health routine of twice daily tooth brushing and daily flossing. Regular visits to your dental professional are important too, especially if you’ve been treated for an abscess. This allows your dentist to confirm that the infection has cleared.
The best thing to do is to keep your teeth and gum line clear of bacterial plaque. Do this by gently brushing with a soft-bristled toothbrush, no more than twice a day. A toothpaste containing fluoride works well for sensitive teeth. You can use the toothpaste as an ointment by rubbing it on your teeth for about 10 minutes, as needed.