Your jaw and teeth hurt. You have a fever and are generally miserable. What’s going on? Unfortunately, you may be experiencing a dental abscess. What does that mean, and what can you do about it? Earwood Dentistry offers an overview of dental abscess and how it is treated. 

What is an abscess? dental abscess

A dental abscess is a collection of pus in the teeth or gums, usually in the soft, pulp areas. When the abscess is in the tooth, it is called a periapical abscess. When it occurs in the gum, it is a periodontal abscess. Either way, it can be a very painful event. 

How does an abscess form?

Bacteria are present in everyone’s mouth. These bacteria can lead to plaque build-up on your teeth. In the case of a periapical abscess, a crack in the tooth or a cavity leaves access for bacteria to travel down to the roots of the tooth and lead to an abscess.

A periodontal abscess occurs when plaque builds up in the space between the teeth. A periodontal abscess may also occur in spaces that form between the teeth due to gum disease. Bacteria can accumulate in these spaces and lead to an abscess.

What are the symptoms?

A dental abscess is extremely uncomfortable and may include the following:

  • Jaw pain
  • Fever
  • Discomfort while chewing
  • Bad breath
  • Pus discharge

How is an abscess treated?

It’s imperative to seek treatment for a dental abscess when you first notice symptoms, as an abscess will not go away on its own. The abscess may drain without treatment and relieve some discomfort temporarily. It’s still important to see your dental professional to make sure the infection is resolved. 

Your dentist will perform an examination and look for tenderness and swelling. The abscess will be drained with a small incision and cleaned. If bone loss has occurred due to the infection, a tooth may need to be pulled. Sometimes, a root canal is also needed.

Antibiotics will be prescribed to stop the infection from spreading and to prevent reoccurrence. 

Preventing an abscess

The best way to avoid the pain of an abscess is to prevent one from forming. Limiting the bacteria in the mouth and the areas it has available to accumulate will go a long way to prevent abscesses. Regular brushing and flossing, along with semi-annual dental cleanings and examinations, can keep your mouth healthy and less prone to bacteria. Your dental professional will help manage your dental health and reduce an abscess’s probability by addressing any dental concerns before they become dental issues. 

If you believe you may have an abscess, contact Earwood Dentistry for an appointment. Our dentists are proud to offer dentistry options in a calm, compassionate environment designed to make your oral health journey as stress-free as possible. Call (919) 847-8413 today!