Dental infections and abscessed teeth are a leading reason for emergency dental treatment.
A tooth abscess is a painful and serious dental emergency. An abscess is a pus producing bacterial infection that causes pain and swelling that needs immediate attention. The infection occurs in or around the root of a tooth that contains blood vessels, nerves and connective tissue, also called in the dental pulp. The abscess can also occur between the gum and a tooth. Tooth abscesses are most commonly caused by advanced tooth decay which may originate from a chipped or broken tooth that becomes infected, worn enamel that allows bacteria to enter the tooth or untreated dental cavity. Gum disease also called gingivitis or in advanced stages periodontal disease, can also cause and abscess. In very serious cases, the infection spreads from the root of the tooth to the bones in the jaw supporting the tooth.
The dentists at McCarl Dental Group take care of patients with dental emergencies every day. Last week in our Greenbelt and Millersville Maryland dental offices, we provided same day emergency dental care to patients with pain from dental infections from the following cities: Annapolis 21401, Severn 21144, Crownsville 21032, Glen Burnie 21060, Riverdale Park 20737, Lanham Seabrook, MD 20706 and Bowie 20715. Almost all of these patients who needed emergency treatment were new to our dental practice. We were happy to help!
Symptoms of an Abscessed Tooth
- A severe toothache or tooth pain with dull pressure, aching, throbbing pain or sharp pain
- Pain with or without chewing
- Redness and swelling of the gums and in advanced infections, swelling of the jaw
- Sensitivity of the teeth to temperature – hot or cold
- An open, draining sore in the gums that may also cause a bitter taste in the mouth
- Bad breath
Treatment of an Abscessed Tooth
Drain the abscess – The most effective way to treat an abscessed or infected tooth is to establish drainage of the infection. A small incision into the abscess will help the pus drain out. The dentist may also debride and irrigate or wash the area of infection with saline. Debridement is removal of dead or necrotic tissue that will never heal.
Antibiotic therapy – It is not always easy or possible to drain the abscess. A serious dental infection can “neutralize” the effects of local anesthetics making it very difficult to numb the patient for treatment. Infected lower molars are especially difficult to numb in the presence of a serious infection. In these cases a patient needs to be placed on an appropriate antibiotic to reduce the infection so that the local anesthetics can be effective for comfortable treatment.
Root canal – A root canal is a dental procedure to remove the nerve, arteries and vein in the center of the tooth root. In an infected tooth, a root canal can help drain the abscess. When the infection heals, the tooth is restored with a crown to increase the strength and preserve the tooth.
Extraction – If the infected tooth can’t be saved, it will be extracted to drain the abscess and promote healing of the infection.
If there is increased swelling or fever despite antibiotic therapy, the dental patient may need to be seen in a hospital setting. Contact your Dentist for a referral to an Oral Surgeon with hospital privileges to treat you. Don’t get “lost in a hospital emergency room” that may not have expertise with dental emergencies.
If you have dental discomfort that has become painful with selling, you may have an abscess. See your dentist immediately and start appropriate treatment. Although rare, dental abscesses can cause the loss of life.