What Is an Abscess
If you are suffering from an accumulation of pus formed inside your teeth or gums, then that is what we call a dental abscess. It can also form inside the bone that keeps the teeth in place. Commonly it is caused by a bacterial infection. If the patient has an abscess at the end of the tooth then this is referred to as a periapical abscess. However, an abscess found in the gums is called a periodontal abscess. One thing that is certain is that abscesses will not go away on their own so it is extremely important to get in touch with a dentist straight away.
Often dental abscesses are extremely painful however it is not always the case, either way, you will need to get in touch with a professional to diagnose the problem because abscesses can occasionally spread to other parts of your body which will make you very sick.
Signs of a dental abscess
When looking out for symptoms of an abscess in your tooth or gum these are the general signs:
- A pain that becomes worse when lying down, making it hard for you to sleep
- Swelling of your face
- Shiny swollen gums than become very red
- Loose teeth that are very tender and sensitive
- Bad breath
- Uncomfortable when eating hot or cold food and drink
- Throbbing pain that becomes more intense in your tooth or gums
- Pain that continues to spread affecting your ear, jaw, and neck
- Very bad taste in your mouth
If the infection is left untreated and continues to spread then you could also find yourself with a high fever and feel nauseous. As a dental abscess becomes more severe you might find it harder to open your mouth or have problems swallowing food. You may even start to find it harder to breathe.
What is the cause?
Your mouth is always full of bacteria, most of it is harmless and helps your mouth stay healthy. However, through interaction with starches and sugar, another bacteria is formed called plaque. Plaque is like a sticky film that covers your teeth. If you do not keep good oral hygiene and regularly brush your teeth then the acids produced by plaque will start to damage your teeth and gums. This then leads to gum disease and tooth decay which are a prime environment for a dental abscess to form.
How can I prevent this?
You can easily reduce the risks of contracting a dental abscess simply by keeping good oral hygiene. If you make sure that your teeth and gums are healthy then you should not be at risk of developing gum disease. You can ensure this is the case by sticking to the following:
- Clean between your teeth and under the gum line by using floss or an interdental brush on a daily basis
- Ensure you use a fluoride toothpaste
- Brush your teeth twice a day and make sure this is for at least 2 minutes each time
- Do not rinse your mouth with water or mouthwash after brushing – this removes the toothpaste’s protective components
- Do not drink sugary or starchy foods in excess
- Stop snacking between meals or before going to bed
- Visit your dentist regularly – once every 6 to 12 months