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A Guide to Dental Abscess

Dental abscess that have formed on a tooth are one of the most common reasons individuals are required to undergo emergency dental surgery. The issue can cause unexpected and severe pain in the affected area, which spreads to the jaw, gums and face in many cases.

This problem, which is thought to be one of the most painful dental issues, requires immediate attention by a dental professional. If it is left untreated, the affected tooth will need to be extracted in order to prevent the infection spreading to other teeth and surrounding gums.

Abscess can form in various parts of the body and often emerge as a reaction from the immune system that is responding to an untreated infection. If a particular area of the mouth becomes infected, the battle between the body’s defences and the problem will create a variety of dead cells that form pus.

The abscess is the immune system’s method of keeping the pus in one place, as through this localisation the infection is prevented from spreading to other areas of the body, which could ultimately lead to wider health issues.

A high level of pain and discomfort is brought on by this issue due to the growth of the abscess, which occurs the longer an infection is left untreated. Pressure is subsequently caused and may result in the growth bursting. While this may relieve the pain for a short period, it can cause further complications in the future as the infection is, once again, free to spread.

A dental abscess can be caused as a result of injury or trauma to the tooth, although the most common cause is dental decay that creates a cavity allowing the tooth to become infected.

Dental decay, which is common among individuals of all ages, is caused by a build-up of plaque on the teeth, which collects on a daily basis. If patients fail to maintain an effective oral hygiene routine, the substance can react with sugars found in carbohydrates to form acid.

This substance gradually erodes through the tooth’s protective outer layer of enamel and dentin until the inner pulp is left exposed.

Dental abscess can be prevented if a high quality oral hygiene routine is maintained by individuals of all ages. Regular brushing is essential to rid the mouth of plaque and bacteria that build up on the teeth progressively on a daily basis.

It is also vital for members of the public looking to reduce the risk of requiring emergency dentistry to floss between their teeth daily, as well as attending an appointment with a dental professional at least once every six months.

This process will allow teeth to be checked and a more thorough clean to be provided, which can remove the plaque from teeth that is commonly overlooked or missed by individuals cleaning their teeth without specialist equipment.

What are the symptoms of a dental abscess?

Cavities caused by decay can often go unnoticed until they reach the nerve endings and blood cells that are found in the pulp inside the teeth. For this reason, a dental abscess can be difficult to identify until it is too late.

Before the cavity reaches the pulp, it needs to get through the layers of enamel and dentin that are found on the surface of each tooth. These two substances protect teeth against both damage and decay, with the early stages of a cavity failing to trigger any pain or discomfort.

If teeth are left without treatment and an abscess does form, the pain may arrive extremely suddenly. In many cases, the discomfort is not localised to a specific area and spreads across the cheeks, jaw and face. The gum tissue around the infected tooth can become sore and swollen too, with the spread of pain often making it difficult to identify the affected area.

A high temperature, pain and fever are not uncommon among patients suffering from a dental abscess.

What course of action should be taken?

The most important action that can be taken in the case of a dental abscess is an immediate visit to an emergency dentist, which will hopefully spell the end of the problem as soon as possible.

If the issue is ignored for a long period of time, the infected tooth may need tooth extraction, as the problem may spread to other areas of the mouth. Therefore, it is absolutely vital for individuals to ensure they visit a dental professional at the next possible opportunity.

In some cases, the pain caused by the growth of a dental abscess can subside and encourage many people to think they have no reason to make an appointment with their dentist. However, this can mean that the abscess has burst of its own accord and release the pressure on the tooth. This can actually increase the chances of the infection worsening, so it is vital for members of the public to attend the dentist, who can ultimately care for the tooth, remove the decay and fill the cavity.

Taking over-the-counter painkillers can be an effective solution to ease the pain of a dental abscess before an appointment can be attended. Many people find relief in applying a cold compress to the side of the face to relieve the pain in the jaw, cheek and face.

How is an abscess treated?

The severity and type of the abscess will largely indicate the type of treatment that is given. A gingival or peripheral abscess occurring on the surface of the gum is usually drained to compress the side of the face to relieve the pressure, with the infection then treated with a course of antibiotics.

A periodontal abscess will require draining immediately to relieve the pressure and reduce the discomfort experienced by the patient. However, once the periodontal abscess has been removed there is still a space left in the pocket between the gum and tooth. For this reason, antibiotics will not be enough to ensure the infection does not return.

In these cases, a dental professional will need to clean the space where the abscess was formed to remove any remains of infection or decay. The tooth will then be shaped to smooth the surface and the gum tissue may be encouraged to grow back around the roots of the tooth. This will close the gaps where infection can develop and close over.

An X-ray may need to be taken to identify the location of the abscess in cases involving a periapical abscess, which involves much more complex treatment. Patients suffering from this type of problem usually need to undergo root canal treatment.

Will the infection return?

If an abscess is caught in time and the appropriate treatment is given, the infection should be removed and the tooth preserved. Therefore, it is vital to attend an appointment with a dental professional to stop the infection from returning.

A number of complications can be caused by the return of an infection, including the complete extraction of the tooth. Further problems can be caused beyond the infected area, which can spread to the skin causing soreness, swelling and discolouration.

This issue can often spread from the tooth to the jawbone and bring on a condition called osteomyelitis, which can escalate to affect the bone marrow. The disease is a debilitating condition and can be very painful, which can bring on the requirement for surgery.

The practice is open Seven days a week from 8am to 11pm for routine dentistry and we offer a 24 hour emergency dental walk-in service 365 days a year. You can book a consultation at any time by calling our reception team 24 hours a day on 0208 547 9997 or contact us during our working hours by email.

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