Dental Abscesses: Symptoms And Treatment

If you have a toothache that is continuous, severe and that results in a throbbing or shooting pain, these are often indicators that you might have an abscessed tooth. If this infection kills the tooth, your toothache may stop. However, the infection is still going to be there, spreading and destroying tissue. So if you have any of the following symptoms, you should go to a dentist even if the pain goes away:

  • Persistent fever
  • Chewing causes pain
  • Tooth sensitivity to cold or hot
  • Very foul breath
  • Bitter taste in your mouth
  • General uneasiness or discomfort
  • Swollen neck glands
  • Swollen or reddened gums
  • Swelling in the lower or upper jaw
  • Draining, open sore on the gum

How Does a Dentist Diagnose an Abscess?

Your dentist will use a dental instrument to probe the tooth in order to test for an abscess. If you have one, you will feel significant pain when the dentist taps your tooth with the instrument. The dentist may also test to see if your pain significantly increases if you bite down hard. He or she will also look for swelling or redness. If your dentist suspects there is an abscess, X-rays will probably be done to look for any damage to the bone around the tooth.

Abscess Treatment Options

Your dentist's goals when treating an abscess is to save the tooth, eliminate your infection and prevent any complications. To accomplish this, one or more of the following methods may be used:

  • Root Canal: To get rid of your infection, the dentist may choose to drain the abscess by performing a root canal. This can also be used to remove any diseased tissue after the infection is gone. Root canals are usually followed by the placement of a crown on the tooth.
  • Extraction: Alternatively, the dentist may decide to extract the tooth, which will allow the abscess to drain through the open socket.
  • Incision: Another approach to dealing with an abscess is for the dentist to cut an incision into the swollen tissue on your gumline.
  • Other Measures: Dentists will usually prescribe antibiotics to help fight off the infection. Along with this, you will probably also be advised to take painkillers and apply warm saltwater rinses to the infected area.

Abscess Prevention

If you want to reduce the chance that you will develop a tooth abscess, it is important to always practice good oral hygiene. In addition, immediately addressing any dental problems you have (such as loosened or chipped teeth) can also help minimize the chance of developing an abscess.