Not Just an Ordinary Infection: Addressing Dental Abscesses

A dental abscess can catch some off-guard. One moment everything is fine and the next your mouth is suffering from a painful and potentially dangerous infection. The way you handle an abscess can influence your health and fast action is needed in all cases. To find out more about the dental infection known as an abscess, read on.

What Causes Dental Abscesses?

As with most infections, an abscess is the result of bacteria growth inside a gum. Bacteria can make their way into your gums via a broken or cracked tooth or a break in the gum tissue. Many don't realize they have been infected until a pocket of pus forms on the gum. That sore or pocket of pus is the main sign of an abscess. Some abscesses are painful but it's important to note that not everyone experiences pain. Other signs to watch out for include:

  • An unexpected bad taste in the mouth—even if you have not been eating strongly flavored foods.
  • Pain when eating cold or hot foods or drinks.
  • Fever and other common signs of infection like swollen lymph nodes and feeling generally unwell.

How to Handle an Abscess

Call your dentist immediately and you are likely to be provided with the earliest appointment. That is because dental abscess infections can spread to other areas of your body and make you dangerously ill. In most cases, an abscess won't just go away and you will need antibiotic treatment from your dentist. While you wait to see the dentist, try these remedies at home:

You can take some over-the-counter pain relievers like Tylenol or an NSAID. Ask your dentist about which options will help with pain, swelling, and general discomfort.

Eating and drinking may be tricky until you can get treatment. Avoid hard, crunchy foods and things at extreme (hot or cold) temperatures. Interestingly enough, sweet foods can seem to further irritate an abscess. Every once in a while, a warm water rinse can make your painful mouth feel better and keep things cleaner. Just mix a little salt and warm water and swish around in your mouth for a moment before spitting it out.

Getting to the Root of the Problem

Once the antibiotics have taken effect your dentist will need to address the cause of the abscess. Gum diseases, cavities, inadequate fillings, and other problems need to be treated because an abscess can return to wreak havoc again. Contact a local general dentistry practice to find out more.