A dental abscess is an infection caused when harmful bacteria gain entry to the central pulp area of a tooth. This can happen when the tooth has a cavity or when trauma to a tooth has occurred and leaves an opening. An abscess usually leads to inflammation and the development of pus. Many people describe the pain caused by a tooth abscess as one of the worst things they have ever encountered. While the pain from a tooth abscess may come on suddenly, the infection may have been developing over a long period of time.
The symptoms of a tooth abscess are:
• Sensitivity to hot and cold
• Swelling of the jaw
• Bad breath
• Painful chewing
• Swollen lymph nodes at the jaw or neck
• Bitter taste in the mouth
Tooth decay is caused by poor dental hygiene and probably a diet filled with sugary junk food. These will cause the tooth or teeth to disintegrate over time. Trauma can be caused by either being struck in the mouth by a hard object, or biting over time on hard substances like nuts and candy. Either method can allow harmful bacteria to get into the pulp deep within the tooth. This will lead to swelling and pus to develop.
A dentist will assess the tooth with an x-ray. Depending on the extent of the abscess, they will prescribe an antibiotic to fight the infection and possibly a pain medication to help soothe the discomfort. In some cases a tooth can be saved. This may involve a root canal procedure to clean out the pulp and the root, but when the abscess has destroyed a large portion of the tooth, it may have to be extracted.
There are a few ways to prevent tooth abscesses. A healthy diet that is low on refined foods and sugar helps. Brushing and flossing are very important for maintaining proper oral hygiene. It is also very important to not bite down on hard objects like rock candy, nuts, and stale bread and cookies.
If you are experiencing any kind of tooth pain, it is important to see a dentist as soon as possible. This will prevent the problem from getting worse, will get you relief quickly, and can prevent the abscess from becoming a life threatening infection.
If you would like to schedule an appointment with a dentist at Flushing Hospital, please call 718-670-5522.
All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.