Dental abscesses are quite common, but left untreated can be very dangerous. If you notice a small, raised bump on your gums, you should seek dental care as soon as possible to prevent possible complications.
Dr. Stephen Hiroshige and his staff work to help you enjoy the best oral health possible. An abscess can threaten both your dental health and your overall health. Untreated infections can cause sepsis, or a whole-body response to infection, which can be deadly. Those same untreated infections can also cause endocarditis, or an inflammation of your heart’s lining, and a host of other problems in addition to tooth loss. The solution for an abscess may be to get a filling, a root canal, a dental implant, or other procedure, but it’s crucial to stop the infection.
Abscess: a definition
An abscess is a pocket of pus. It can appear on your gum or in your tooth’s root. The pus builds up as a result of an infection. An untreated infection can be both dangerous and painful. The symptoms of an abscess include:
- Throbbing pain
- Swollen, red gums
- A bad taste that won’t go away
- Bad breath
- Discolored tooth
- Tooth sensitivity
- Swelling in your face, neck, or eyes
- Trouble opening your mouth
- Problems chewing
There are different types of abscesses, and the type you have influences the symptoms you’re likely to see.
Types of abscesses
Abscesses are categorized according to where they appear. The three types include:
This is when the pocket of pus forms on the tip of your tooth’s root. You won’t see this type of abscess, but you’ll certainly feel the symptoms. When you have a periapical abscess, you most likely have a cavity, which allowed bacteria to enter your tooth and reach the soft inner pulp.
One of the most common dental issues in the United States is gum disease, and it is gum disease that usually causes periodontal abscesses, though trauma can also be the cause.
You can see a periodontal abscess and it looks like a pimple on your gums. It’s a small, red bump that feels sore.
Have you ever gotten popcorn stuck between your teeth? When a foreign body gets embedded in your gums, it can cause an infection that, in turn, causes a gingival abscess.
Treatment for an abscess
The best treatment depends on the type of abscess you have. The first order of business is usually clearing up the infection and easing your discomfort. You may need antibiotics or over-the-counter medication like ibuprofen to ease the pain.
Other potential treatments include draining the abscess, a root canal, extracting the tooth, taking antibiotics, or in the case of a gingival abscess, removing the foreign object.
If you have an abscess, or suspect that you do, schedule your appointment with Dr. Hiroshige as soon as possible.