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Dental Abscess

At Emergency Dentist London we see a lot of different conditions and one of the most painful and one that we always give priority to is a dental abscess. We thought it would be helpful to give you some information about dental abscesses in answer to some of the questions we are most often asked

What do you mean by a dental abscess?

Infection of the gums by bacteria is what will give rise to an abscess in a tooth. The infection could also be in the bone or in the tooth. Abscesses are very painful and need the attention of your dentist very promptly because they will not resolve without treatment from a dentist. Left without treatment an abscess in a tooth can cause a severe infection in the gums and even affect the integrity of your bone structure or even spread more widely in your body and result in serious illness. Some of the most common signs that you do in fact have the dental abscess are:

  • Your gums are visibly swollen and red and angry looking
  • You have a pain that throbs that comes on very quickly and can also spread to your neck your jaw and also give you earache
  • You find yourself very sensitive to anything hot or cold
  • Your face is red and swollen over the site of the abscess
  • If you have a bad taste in your mouth and other people may also notice you have bad breath

There are three main ways in which a dental abscess can be treated and they are:

  1. With root-canal treatment
  2. With tooth extraction
  3. With draining of the abscess

Dental abscess treated with root canal treatment

If a dental abscess occurs in the root of a tooth, treatment with a root canal procedure will be the best solution. Once the area has been numbed the dentist well remove some of the enamel of the tooth so that he can get to the roots and begin treatment. Depending on how severe the situation is, you might need a couple of visits and during this time the dentist will be applying medication to eradicate the bacterial infection. You may also need to have x-rays at your first appointment so that your condition can be assessed accurately. Only when he or she is sure that the infection is completely gone will your dentist close the tooth by applying a new filling. We know that a lot of people are nervous about having root canal treatment so if you're feeling anxious please refer to our page dealing with sedation that will give you more information about what we can do to help you doing your procedure.

Extracting the tooth

If your dentist finds that your tooth is badly damaged or that the abscess is going to be very hard to manage then having the tooth out may be recommended to you. When the tooth is extracted the pus that is collected in the abscess will be released and there will be immediate relief from pain. A dentist will always do everything they can to save a tooth sometimes it will reach a point where taking it out is really the only option.

Draining the abscess

Draining a dental abscess is a highly specialised procedure and will be undertaken by one of our specialists or dentists to relieve the pain that the abscess is causing and to release pus from the abscess. Draining the abscess will take place through a small incision made in the gum and other therapies may also be given after the drainage has taken place. We will usually always offer sedation for this procedure to make sure there is no sensitivity to the patient when the draining of the abscess is taking place.

What causes an abscess?

We always have bacteria in our mouths and this is perfectly normal. But if our oral hygiene is not good enough plaque can form around teeth and from there get into the gums possibly giving rise to a dental abscesses. However, there are several things you can do to ensure that you have the best chance of avoiding the formation of an abscess. Here are some predisposing factors and what you can do to minimise the risk

If your immune system is weak

People who suffer from diabetes or from some other health conditions may suffer a lowering of their immune system and that will make them most susceptible to problems with their oral health. Regular check-ups with your dentist and keeping your conditions under control and monitored by your doctor can help.

Previous surgery or a pervious injury

If someone has had surgery or an injury it makes it easier for bacteria to get into the gums and into the bone of the jaw and for a subsequent dental abscess to develop. This can happen months or even years after the initial injury or surgery has taken place. Making sure that your oral hygiene is always the best is the only way to try and prevent this happening.

Eating starchy and sugary drinks and food

There is no doubt that what we eat and drink will affect our oral hygiene. The starch and sugar that is found in what we eat and drink will create a great environment for bacteria to thrive and without proper oral hygiene you can be prone to developing an abscess as well as tooth decay.

Oral hygiene is key

There is no doubt that unless we are very careful with our oral hygiene, we can leave ourselves open to many kinds of dental problems. Brushing and flossing twice each day and attending for regular hygiene sessions and seeing your dentist regularly is the best way to prevent problems starting and to spot any problem, early.

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