Is it something serious? Well, it may not be serious enough to deter Usain Bolt from winning gold medals at the recent Olympics, but then again, his tolerance level is probably out of the world (just like his running speed). It was reported that he endured the pain while defending his title as the fastest man alive and he received treatment only after the competition.
So what are dental abscesses? Here are 6 things you need to know.
1) It is a result of an infection.
A dental abscess (or dentoalveolar abscess) is an accumulation of pus (thick, yellowish fluid) that is formed naturally by the body to contain an infection and to prevent it from spreading.
Some of the causes for infection are:
- Different types of bacteria
- Tooth decay
- Trauma or injury to a tooth
- Broken or chipped tooth
- Poor oral hygiene
- Faulty tooth restorations
In addition, if you have health issues such as diabetes, low salivary flow, radiation therapy of the head/neck or are consuming certain medications, there is a higher chance of you developing dental abscesses.
They are generally painful due to the pressure of the pus building up and appears as a pink/red swollen area.
2) It comes in three variations.
There are three types of dental abscess and can be identified based on the location of the swelling.
- Gingival abscess – due to an infection or trauma to the surface of gum tissue
- Periodontal abscess – due to infection that has moved deeper into the gum areas (space between the tooth surface and gum tissue)
- Periapical abscess – due to infection of the tooth’s pulp
L-R: Gingival abscess, Periodontal abscess, Periapical abscess
Credit: Your Practice Online
3) There may or may not be symptoms.
If it is a mild, slow spreading infection, then there may not be any symptoms. However, you should still be able to observe a swell in your mouth, indicating a need for you to get it checked by a dentist. Which brings us to our next point…
4) It doesn’t go away on its own.
We have patients who endured with dental abscess for a few weeks or even months, hoping that it would get better eventually. Some even popped the abscess themselves to allow the pus to be drained out, in order to reduce the pain. However, the infection will not go away unless it is treated.
Hence, it is important to visit a dental professional for a thorough examination so that proper treatment can be administered promptly.
What you certainly do not want is delaying treatment and resulting in the infection to damage the surrounding teeth and bone (ie. formation of dental cyst, blood clot to form in large vein, sinus infection etc).
5) It can be treated!
Most gum (gingival and periodontal) abscesses will heal quickly after the area is cleaned thoroughly, the pus is drained and the infection is treated.
As for periapical abscess, where the infection started inside a tooth, more extensive treatment would be required. After the pus is drained out, if the tooth can be saved, it is treated with root canal treatment, followed by a filling or a crown. If the tooth cannot be saved or the abscess is very large, it may need to be removed.
6) You can prevent it.
Like many other dental issues, dental abscesses can be prevented with good oral hygiene and healthy lifestyle. Here is what you can do:
- Rule of 2-2-2: brush your teeth (and tongue) two times a day, for at least two minutes each and visit your dentist two times a year
- Learn how to floss effectively – your dentist would be the best person to advise
- Limit the intake of sugary drinks and food
- Avoid smoking and excessive amount of alcohol
|Suspect you have dental abscess? Make an appointment with one of our dental specialists here for a thorough checkup.|
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