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Tooth Abscess: Causes, Symptoms, and Remedies

Antlara Dental Clinic - Lara, Antalya, Turkey

Tooth Abscesses

Abscesses are swellings formed by dead and damaged red blood cells in a specific area that cannot exit the body. If this swelling occurs in the gum or tooth root, it is called a tooth abscess.

A tooth abscess is a medical condition that appears as a toothache, swelling, or redness on the gums, as part of the body's reaction to bacteria. Let's take a deeper look at tooth abscesses and how they can manifest themselves.

What is a Tooth Abscess?

What is a Tooth Abscess?

A tooth abscess is an advanced infection that forms at the junction of the gums and the ends of the tooth roots. There are mainly two distinct kinds of oral abscesses. Periodontal abscesses develop in the gums, while periapical abscesses develop around the tooth roots. In most cases, periapical abscesses form due to dental decay, cavities, or previous mistreatments, while periodontal abscesses form when food becomes lodged between teeth and germs start growing.

Dental abscesses are bacterial infections. If left untreated, dental caries can spread through dental pulp or fractures and cracks on teeth. In addition, they may provoke swelling on the skin and gums if they reach the root of the tooth.

Gingival abscesses generally develop over time, so their symptoms are not recognized easily. On the other hand, abscesses that affect the pulp chamber, that is, the nerves, can cause severe pain.

What Causes a Tooth Abscess?

Abscesses can be classified into two types. They may form between the teeth and at the roots of the teeth. The formation of abscesses also varies based on the location of the infection. In a periapical abscess, bacteria reach the teeth through tiny holes in the cavities.

These are the main reasons that trigger abscess formation;

  • Frequent consumption of sugary foods and beverages,
  • Excessive consumption of carbohydrates,
  • Neglecting oral care,
  • Drinking insufficient water,
  • Tooth decay,
  • Damaged tooth enamel,
  • Using the same toothbrush for a long time.
What are the Symptoms of Tooth Abscess

What are the Symptoms of Tooth Abscess?

A tooth abscess will often cause excruciating pain, but an abscess that forms at a site where nerves have been removed will not. Signs of a tooth abscess include severe pain, either stabbing or dulling and worsening discomfort in response to heat and pressure.

Dental abscesses may spread to other areas of the body if they are not addressed. If your abscess is feverish and begins to obstruct your airway or swallow, you must seek medical attention immediately because this could have serious consequences. A cyst may form when an abscess comes into contact with certain tissues in the body.

Tooth abscess symptoms are quite obvious and similar for most patients. Occasionally, abscesses do not cause pain but may cause swelling in the cheeks and gums. In the case of a root canal tooth, the abscess might not cause any pain since the nerve is dead.

Recognizing the Signs: Symptoms and Pain Associated with Tooth Abscesses

The followings are common symptoms of dental abscesses:

  • An extreme, sharp, or throbbing pain,
  • Applying heat or pressure to the affected area worsens the pain,
  • Swelling of the face in extreme cases,
  • Bad breath,
  • Fire,
  • Trismus (inability to open the mouth),
  • Insomnia,
  • General discomfort and distress.

Navigating Treatment Risks: The Importance of Early Antibiotic Therapy

Because there are hazards associated with anaesthetizing the region where the abscess is situated, it is crucial to begin antibiotic therapy as soon as possible. The first danger is that the pH level in the abscess region may drop too low for the anaesthesia to be effective, creating an acidic environment. There is also a possibility that the anesthesia will spread harmful toxins from the area where the cyst is to healthy tissues nearby. Therefore, abscess therapies should aim to numb the nerve roots rather than the abscess itself.

Home Remedies and Temporary Relief

Tooth abscesses can be treated immediately at home with cold compresses, clove oil and other methods, which provide temporary pain relief. However, a comprehensive treatment is essential to eliminate the conditions that created the abscess. Therefore, a dentist needs to check and provide treatment.

Poor oral hygiene, especially after consuming sugary food and carbohydrates, contributes to the formation of abscesses. When dental caries are not treated, they come out of the teeth through cracks or fractures. Even though an abscess cannot be completely removed by tooth abscess home remedy, there are some practical methods to get rid of its pain and discomfort.

1- Cold Compress

Cold Compress

The cold compress relieves pain in the abscess area by reducing blood pressure. Additionally, a cold compress can prevent swelling from growing.

2- Aloe Vera Gel

Aloe vera gel has antibacterial properties and provides immediate relief from toothache and infection caused by tooth abscesses.

3- Sumac Water

Sumac is an antioxidant-rich spice. Besides treating diseases such as fever and flu, sumac can also be gargled to treat abscessed teeth. You can reduce tooth abscess effects by gargling with 1 tablespoon of sumac in water.

4- Baking Soda

The baking soda works great for reducing pain caused by abscesses. It can be easily prepared by adding one teaspoon of baking soda to warm water.

5- Garlic

Known as a natural antibiotic, garlic is also very effective in tooth abscesses. You can put the garlic on the abscessed area, wait for a while and then throw it away. If you wish, you can also consume garlic against abscesses.

6- Clove Oil

Clove oil is very effective against oral infections and dental abscesses. However, excessive use can damage the gums. So, you can pour 1 gr. of clove oil on clean cotton and apply it to the abscessed area.

7- Salt Water

You can apply salt water to temporarily relieve abscess pain. In addition, saltwater promotes gum health and aids in healing. Add 1 teaspoon of salt to a glass of water and gargle for two minutes.

8- Mint Tea

Peppermint tea is another effective way to reduce the pain caused by tooth abscesses. You can cool a bag of mint tea and apply it to the aching area if you wish. The refreshing effect of mint helps to feel less pain.

9- Apple Juice

Apple juice is one of the effective methods in the solution of tooth abscesses with its high antioxidant value. It is also possible to contribute to oral health by consuming apples.

Hydrogen peroxide is often recommended to treat abscesses. However, it is not recommended to use this method since hydrogen peroxide irritates soft tissues which can lead to permanent damage to the gums.

Tooth Abscess Treatment

How do Dentists Treat an Abscess?

The completion of the acute stage is crucial for the effective treatment of dental abscesses. If it's in its early stages, the therapy involves reestablishing the bone structure by injecting the root canal with agents that speed up the process of bone growth. It may be necessary to extract the tooth if the root canal procedure fails to alleviate the abscess.

Unfortunately, bacterial sepsis may develop if an abscessed tooth is extracted because the abscess can seep into the bloodstream via the extraction hole. As a result, during the acute phase, antibiotic therapy takes precedence, and then, after the antibiotic dosage is reached, the abscessed tooth is pulled. After the extraction, the affected region has to be cleansed using the right instruments, and then the tissue needs to regenerate.

In the past, the only treatment for an abscessed tooth was extraction However, dentists today can often heal abscessed teeth.

Tooth Abscess Treatment

Initially, your dentist will administer tooth abscess antibiotics to alleviate the infection. This will also prevent the infection from spreading to other parts of your body.

Your dentist will then numb the area and drill a hole in the tooth socket. This will reduce the pressure caused by the abscess. The tooth socket is cleaned, disinfected, and refilled in the last stage. 

Several months later, the dentist checks the area to see if healthy tissue has grown. In the event that the infection persists, additional surgical procedures are required for the treatment for tooth abscess.

How to Prevent Tooth Abscess?

It is due to poor oral hygiene that abscesses form. The following points are important to remember in order to prevent abscesses:

  • Drink water containing fluoride.
  • Make sure the toothpaste contains fluoride.
  • Change your toothbrush every three months.
  • Use dental floss.
  • Use mouthwashes containing antibacterial and fluoride ingredients to remove food residues.
  • Avoid excessive consumption of sugary and carbohydrate foods.
  • Get regular dental care.

Tooth Abscess FAQ

How Would I Know if I had an Abscess in My Tooth?

Hot foods or drinks trigger hypersensitivity in the early stages of an abscess. This is followed by swelling of the gums and pain when chewing and biting. Face swelling, fever, and throbbing pain appear as the disease advances.

Will a Tooth Abscess Go Away with Antibiotics?

Antibiotics can usually stop abscesses from spreading, but they cannot cure them completely. To completely clean abscesses, surgery is required.

Can I Squeeze a Tooth Abscess?

A tooth abscess can grow larger if squeezed. It is necessary to apply to the dentist as soon as possible. You can use home remedies to heal pain and slow down infection spread.

Can I Pop an Abscess with a Needle?

Blasting the abscess with a needle causes more harm than good. This procedure should only be performed by a maxillofacial surgeon in a hospital environment and can't be performed at home.

Can a Tooth Abscess Heal on Its Own

A tooth abscess is a symptom caused by the body's response to an infection. Before the inflammation is cleared and the disease is completely eradicated, they do not disappear on their own. 

Ignoring tooth abscesses can have serious consequences. It may spread to the surrounding tissues and jawbone, causing severe pain and difficulty swallowing. It can then spread throughout the body and weaken your immune system. Do not be late for your dental appointment if you have a tooth abscess.

Your Path to Wellness: Don't overlook the indications of a tooth abscess; take proactive actions toward a healthy smile now. Antlara Dental Clinic is a reliable ally in the fight against tooth abscesses, providing skilled attention and thorough treatments. Our proficient staff comprehends the need to promptly manage dental infections, offering appropriate therapies to reduce discomfort and avert further difficulties.

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