Causes And Treatment Of A Dental Abscess

Our Cheshunt and Waltham Cross dental team are here to help treat this often painful problem.

Anyone who has had a dental abscess will know just how painful they can sometimes be, although it is entirely possible to have an abscess that causes no pain at all.

Whichever is the case, they should not be taken lightly and you should seek the advice of your local dentist if you suspect that you may have one.

An abscess can form inside the tooth, the gums and even in the bone surrounding the tooth and is typically caused by a bacterial infection. If not treated, it is possible for the bacteria to spread to other parts of the body and may lead to further medical complications.

How to spot an abscess

There are several possible indicators of an abscess, and whilst some of these may also apply to other conditions, you should call The Lodge Dental Suite for an appointment if you have any of these symptoms in our around the mouth which may include:

  • A sudden ‘throbbing’ pain which becomes worse
  • Any pain that spreads to the side of your face. This can affect your ears, jaw and neck as well as your teeth
  • Any swelling or visible signs of soreness such as a reddening of the face
  • Swollen or inflamed gums
  • Sudden sensitivity to hot and cold
  • Bad smelling breath and/or a nasty taste in the mouth
  • A high temperature and a general feeling of being unwell. This could be an indication that the bacterial infection has spread.

What causes an abscess?

If you have a good oral health regimen and follow a sensible diet, your chances of suffering from abscesses are greatly reduced. Some possible causes for them include the following:

  • Poor oral hygiene with incorrect brushing techniques and avoidance of inter-dental cleaning, such as through the use of floss
  • A diet that is high in sugars which encourages faster growth of plaque (bacteria) and tartar
  • Damage or injury to the gums which increases the chances of infections
  • Depressed immune systems such as those in diabetics and people receive certain medical treatments

Whilst there is no guarantee, making sure that you brush your teeth and floss well, avoiding or reducing teeth harming food and drinks along with seeing your dentist regularly for a check up, will help you to avoid abscesses and dental problems in general.

What to do if you suspect that you have an abscess

Your first course of action should be to call our Cheshunt practice on 01992 643 388. Please don’t call your doctor as they will not be able to help where a dental abscess is present and are likely to simply refer you back to your dentist. Unfortunately, it appears that a large number of people do see their doctors about dental matters (reference 1 below). This should not be the case and if additional medical care is needed, we will always advise you during your appointment. If an abscess arises when we are closed and is causing you significant pain, please still call us on the above number and listen to the recorded advice about where to obtain emergency care.

Easing the symptoms

If you are in pain with a dental abscess, there are a few things that you can do to ease the symptoms and discomfort until such time as you can be seen by the dentist.

  • Take your usual painkillers. This will help to make you more comfortable and may help to reduce some inflammation
  • Avoid hot and cold food and drinks
  • Eat with the opposite side of your mouth to where the abscess is, wherever possible
  • Avoid flossing in that area as it may cause the infection to spread, a well as potentially being very painful

These suggestions should help to make your time until you can be seen by the dentist pass more bearably.

Treating a dental abscess

When you see your dentist at The Lodge Dental Suite, we will thoroughly examine the abscess and may take x-rays to check that the infection has not spread. There are different types of abscesses and the treatment to be carried it will be decided following an examination. Possible treatments may include:

  • Draining the abscess of accumulated pus and cleaning the infected area
  • Root canal treatment following the removal of the abscess where the infection is located in the tooth root
  • Extracting the affected tooth. This will only be done as a last resort and we will do all that we can to help you keep your natural teeth
  • Although not a solution to an abscess, antibiotics may be prescribed if the infection has spread

If you suspect that you may have an abscess, please do not ignore it in the hope that it will go away. There is every likelihood that it will become worse and may also potentially spread, causing further complications. Local patients from Cheshunt, Waltham Cross and surrounding areas can contact us by calling our team on 01992 643 388.

Reference 1 – https://www.dentistry.co.uk/2018/10/24/gps-see-380000-people-year-dental-problems/